Drumbeat: November 14, 2010

Is ‘Peak Oil’ Behind Us?

Peak oil is not just here — it’s behind us already.

That’s the conclusion of the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based organization that provides energy analysis to 28 industrialized nations. According to a projection in the agency’s latest annual report, released last week, production of conventional crude oil — the black liquid stuff that rigs pump out of the ground — probably topped out for good in 2006, at about 70 million barrels per day. Production from currently producing oil fields will drop sharply in coming decades, the report suggests.

Oil prices up to $90 won't hurt global economy: Iran

TEHRAN: Iran's OPEC governor said oil prices of $70-$90 per barrel would not hurt the global economy, the oil ministry's official website SHANA reported on Sunday.

"Consumers and producers are unanimous that the oil at $70-$90 prices are suitable prices and will not hurt the global economy," Mohammad Ali Khatibi told SHANA.

IEA throws doubt on weak dollar driving up oil price

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has questioned the market belief that oil prices must inevitably continue to rise as the US dollar weakens.

Bullish commodities investors should be careful what they wish for, it said in its latest monthly report, released last week.

Iraq sees gas field output at 25 pct in three years

(Reuters) - Iraq expects commercial production from its gas fields to be at 25 percent of the production target within the first three years, an oil official said on Sunday.

"The first commercial production from the gas fields that should be achieved by the contractor will be 25 percent of the production target within the first three years, and the final production target set in the contract should be achieved in six years," said Abdul-Mahdy al-Ameedi, head of the ministry's licensing and contracting office.

BP to begin drilling for oil in Libyan desert

Troubled oil giant BP is expected to start drilling for oil in Ghadames basin in the Sahara desert next month, a milestone in its controversial deal with Libya.

Feuding feds agree to tests on blowout preventer

Beginning Monday, forensic engineers will put the blowout preventer retrieved from the Deepwater Horizon through a battery of tests designed to reveal why it failed to stop gushing oil and gas at BP's Macondo well this year.

A last-minute compromise among federal agencies will ensure that the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has its own representative in the testing facility, along with five other experts from BP, rig owner Transocean, blowout preventer manufacturer Cameron International, the Justice Department and the plaintiffs in a multidistrict class action lawsuit tied to the oil spill.

What caused the Deepwater Horizon disaster? There's a clue at Chernobyl

One decision, the most crucial, is particularly puzzling. In the hours before the accident, men on the rig carried out the essential test that would tell them whether oil and gas were – potentially fatally – leaking into the well. Three times they tried it and each time the result signalled danger. But they decided to proceed as if all was well.

The well was blown,” Sean Grimsley, one of the inquiry’s deputy chief counsels told us. “Hydrocarbons were leaking in. But for whatever reason the crew decided it was a good test. The question is why these experienced men out on that rig talked themselves into believing that it indicated well integrity. None of them wanted to die.”

The same question arose at another inquiry I covered, nearly a quarter of a century ago, into Chernobyl itself. It is now fashionable to blame the accident on the Russian RBMK reactor design. But, though this was not great, the world’s worst nuclear disaster was, in fact, caused by a similar chain of human errors.

Iran to raise Abadan gasoline output in Feb

TEHRAN: Iran will increase gasoline production capacity of the Abadan refinery to 16 million litres per day from February, an Oil Ministry official said yesterday, state television reported.

By inaugurating the gasoline producing scheme, the gasoline production capacity of the refinery will be increased by 6.5 million barrel per day and reach 16 million litres," said Alireza Mehraban, managing director of the Abadan refinery. Mehraban said the production capacity of the refinery was currently 10 million litres per day.

Gas field talks still on hold between Japan, China

TOKYO — Japan’s foreign minister urged China on Sunday to reopen talks on developing natural gas deposits off islands claimed by both countries.

His Chinese counterpart, however, said tensions must cool before things can move forward, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.

Topaz to target Brazil and West Africa

The time is right for Topaz Energy and Marine, the Dubai marine services and oil and gas engineering group, to enter markets offshore Brazil and West Africa, according to the company's Omani parent.

Grant helps Montana Refinery and Brix-Berg expand horizons

In the world of oil refineries, Montana Refining Co.'s Great Falls facility, which processes 10,000 barrels of heavy oil a day, is unique. It is one of the smallest refineries making a full slate of petroleum products, manufacturing gasoline, jet fuel, asphalt and more.

How to Get In Early On America's Next Great Commodity Boom

So where will the natural gas go? This is an interesting question, because it yields some surprising answers.

I attended the ASPO conference last month in Washington, D.C. (ASPO stands for the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas.) One of the more fascinating presentations was by Jonathan Callahan, founder of Mazama Science.

He looked at natural gas through the lens of the import/export markets. This is a good thing to do for any commodity because it can tip you off to what's happening in that market. When China went from being one of the biggest exporters of soybeans to the biggest importer, the effect on agricultural markets was huge.

Peak Oil: Not if but when (audio)

Each year the world’s oil consumption grows. And as consumption grows, so do fears of shortages and rocketing petrol prices.

According to the International Energy Agency, the planet’s oils fields are already in decline – meaning that oil production is about to peak before significantly falling behind demand.

The question is therefore not ‘if’ we’ll run out of oil - but ‘when’.

2SER’s Tom Washington spoke to one of the world’s leading peak oil authorities, Professor Kjell Aleklett, about the issue.

Oil demand peak 'by 2020' if CO2 is cut aggressively

Oil demand could peak within 10 years, but only if governments act aggressively to curb carbon emissions, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts in its latest long-term energy outlook.

New International Energy and Climate Report Like a Classic Scary Movie

The scariest movie ever, IMHO, is the original The Haunting, released in 1963. It has none of the computer graphics, gore, or techno-sizzle frou-frou found in today's fright flicks. It wouldn't have needed any of that embellishment, even if it had been available in that bygone time. Weird lighting, odd camera angles, and jarring cinematography were enough to prime the psychological pumps of fear.

In a strange sort of way, that's how the International Energy Agency's annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) can stir up anyone who worries about humanity's growing pressure on natural life support systems. It doesn't hit you over the head with the melodramatic language and exclamation points often found in climate change action alerts. Instead, the WEO's dry prose and pedestrian graphics are plenty to get anyone who has a passing grasp of energy issues to wonder if we can crack the global energy nut before it cracks human civilization.

Is this Peak Oil? Go figure

Someone once said that to understand the term "expert," one must first understand that an "ex" is a "has been," and a "spurt" is a "drip under pressure." Nowhere is this more evident recently than in describing our so-called economic "exspurts," specifically the shills at the International Energy Agency.

Panic Time for Peak Oil Pundits

It seems the panic time for both green enthusiasts and peak oil pundits.

According to a new paper by two researchers at the University of California – Davis, it would take 131 years for replacement of gasoline and diesel given the current pace of research and development; however, world's oil could run dry almost a century before that.

A useful little point about new technology and searching for natural resources

Yes, sure, there really are physical limits to the resources we can dig out of the ground. But the limitations, at least in any relevant sense, aren’t the limits to such resources that exist: it’s the technologies we have to get at them.

Why Peak Oil is Peak Idiocy

I reported earlier today on the ongoing oil boom in North Dakota's Bakken region, which has set fresh oil production records in six out of the last seven months and now produces 6% of America's crude oil. And all of this is taking place in an area that was never expected to produce so much oil, despite the 4.3 billion barrel estimate of reserves there, because the dense, nonporous rock in the Bakken region makes extraction extremely difficult and costly. That all changed when advanced horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques started successfully tapping Bakken oil two miles below the surface in 2006.

Energy Secretary Chu in sprint to put stimulus to work on renewable innovations

Chu - a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and former professor at Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley - has been in a hurry to get the stimulus money out the door. The sense of urgency is something he has tried to infuse in others. One day in 2009, after biking to the office, he met with a handful of top officials awaiting their swearing-in ceremony.

"Be nice, but don't be patient," he told them, according to one of the officials.

Masdar to Maintain Clean-Energy City Budget, Plan, Chief Al Jaber Says

Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s government- backed renewable energy company, is on track to develop a clean- energy city on time and intends to maintain its current level of spending, its chief executive officer said.

“We are not scaling back, we are not scaling down,” Sultan Al Jaber said today in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi. “Our plans are very much the same. Our budget is very much the same.” He declined to disclose figures.

‘Smart’ Meters Draw Complaints of Inaccuracy

The Robertsons are not satisfied by the official explanations.

They noted that their old meter measured 829 kilowatt-hours of electricity use in for their August-September billing cycle last year. For the comparable period this year, they say, the smart meter counted a more than threefold increase, to 2,772 kilowatt-hours — despite the Robertson’s efforts to reduce their energy use by cutting back on air-conditioning and switching to energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs.

Nuclear protests suggest Merkel's tenure not renewable

The backlash to the German chancellor’s decision to extend the life cycle of 17 nuclear plants has been felt on the streets. Leaving its mark on the ballot box may be next.

The protests by tens of thousands of people against the shipping of radioactive waste to a storage site in northern Germany last week have revealed the strength of public opposition to a nuclear policy that will haunt Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, for the remainder of her term.

The Rise Of State Capitalism

The financial meltdown of 2008-09 brought unprecedented disrepute to capitalism and its proponents alike. Many sceptics even termed the crisis as the beginning of the end of free markets. But there is another monstrous trend that threatens the existence of the free-market system as we know it: the obtrusive ascent of command economies on the back of ‘state capitalism’ — a system in which ruling elites use markets to extend their own political and economic leverage. In The End Of The Free Market, US-based political analyst Ian Bremmer expertly illustrates the rise of state capitalism and the threat it poses.

Bremmer says China is experimenting with a form of state capitalism that is being increasingly emulated by others such as authoritarian governments in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ukraine and Algeria. The trend is also seen in democracies such as India and Brazil, though in a limited way. Bremmer says some state-owned energy companies have grown so big that they will play a dominant role in international politics in the years ahead. China’s rush to take control of oil assets in foreign land exemplifies this. Three quarters of global crude oil reserves are now owned by national oil companies such as Aramco (Saudi Arabia), Gazprom (Russia), CNPC (China), NIOC (Iran), PDVSA (Venezuela) and Petrobras (Brazil).

Downsizing the American Dream: The shrinking house

It's not just the inside of the house that's changing, it's the outside, too. The yards are smaller, with many developments favoring shared green spaces over big private yards.

And, the front porch is back. Builders are increasingly moving the garage to the back of the house and adding a big porch on the front.

Seeing a big porch through the dining room, and a shared green space beyond that adds to the illusion that you are getting more — and it makes you want to get out there and reconnect with your neighbors.

At the height of the market it was all about "suburban sprawl," with everyone in their backyards, with their own deck, their own swingset, their own pool — and barely knowing their neighbors. Today, the buzz word is "smart growth" — smaller more sustainable communities that really have a sense of community.

The rise of the surgical shopper as impulse buying declines

The days when shopping was a leisure activity unto itself are over, at the nation's largest shopping center and beyond. Americans are being more precise in how they shop, regardless of what they are buying.

They're visiting fewer stores, checking off their lists and walking away. They're spending less time online when they shop. They aren't stockpiling food or clothes.

Shoppers today visit an average of three stores during a trip to the mall, according to ShopperTrak, a Chicago research firm that tracks sales and customer counts at more than 70,000 stores. That compares with an average of five stores in 2006.

Film on climate change bad boy says 'Cool It' over panic

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Humanity has what it takes to adapt to global warming and there's no need to panic: so goes the message in a new documentary on the bad boy of the climate change debate, Bjoern Lomborg.

KYRGYZSTAN: Fast Melting Glaciers Threaten Biodiversity

BISHKEK (IPS/IFEJ) - Kyrgyzstan's glaciers are receding at what scientists say is an alarming rate, fuelled by global warming. And while experts warn of a subsequent catastrophe for energy and water security for Kyrgyzstan and neighbour states downstream reliant on its water flows, devastation to local ecosystems and the effects on plant and wildlife could be just as severe.

Arab world among most vulnerable to climate change

BEIRUT, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Dust storms scour Iraq. Freak floods wreak havoc in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Rising sea levels erode Egypt's coast. Hotter, drier weather worsens water scarcity in the Middle East, already the world's most water-short region.

The Arab world is already suffering impacts consistent with climate change predictions. Although scientists are wary of linking specific events to global warming, they are urging Arab governments to act now to protect against potential disasters.

Sea level rise threatens Alexandria, Nile Delta

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Reuters) - Twenty years ago, Taher Ibrahim raced his friends across Alexandria's beaches, now rising seas have swept over his favourite childhood playground.

Alexandria, with 4 million people, is Egypt's second-largest city, an industrial centre and a port that handles four-fifths of national trade. It is also one of the Middle East's cities most at risk from rising sea levels due to global warming.

"There were beaches I used to go to in my lifetime, now those beaches are gone. Is that not proof enough?" asked Ibrahim, a manager at a supermarket chain who is in his 40s.

As Glaciers Melt, Scientists Seek New Data on Rising Seas

Scientists long believed that the collapse of the gigantic ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica would take thousands of years, with sea level possibly rising as little as seven inches in this century, about the same amount as in the 20th century.

But researchers have recently been startled to see big changes unfold in both Greenland and Antarctica.

As a result of recent calculations that take the changes into account, many scientists now say that sea level is likely to rise perhaps three feet by 2100 — an increase that, should it come to pass, would pose a threat to coastal regions the world over.

And the calculations suggest that the rise could conceivably exceed six feet, which would put thousands of square miles of the American coastline under water and would probably displace tens of millions of people in Asia.

Re: As Glaciers Melt, Scientists Seek New Data on Rising Seas

Having just passed thru a blitz of national election propaganda denying the problem of Climate Change, we find yet again that Mother Nature doesn't watch television or read web pages. Instead, she is continuing to respond to our changes, melting the glaciers at an increasing rate. I found this article very interesting, especially as the scientists now suggest that the sea level is going to rise much faster than previously thought. A 1 meter rise by the end of this century is said to be the likely result, but it might also rise faster, perhaps 2 meters. And, the rise wouldn't stop at that level. As we are now told that we must ignore the problem due to our present economic problems, this projection is very troubling...

E. Swanson

Yes, I found that article pretty scary. They admit there's a high degree of uncertainty. Maybe they're overestimating the sea level rise. But there's an equal chance they're underestimating it.

It really doesn't matter whether the cause is AGW or not. It's happening, and we'll have to deal with it. "We can’t afford to protect everything. We will have to abandon some areas."

This is something we'll need to keep in mind when it comes to infrastructure. Building new and repairing old. "The Crumbling of America" is airing on The History Channel right now, about our deteriorating infrastructure. We can't even maintain what we've built. If we're going to build new - nuclear power plants, railways, wind farms, etc. - we should give consideration to sea level rise when we site and design them.

Yes, quite scary. After reading the article, I followed a link to a paper by Hansen from 2007. That paper offers still more depth to back up the scenarios mentioned in the NYT story, which was itself rather detailed. Time to go for a walk...

E. Swanson

For millions of Floridians, life on a peninsula means melting icecaps in Greenland aren’t just something for polar bears to worry about.

Southern Florida’s coastal flood-control structures, counted on to protect low-lying communities from getting swamped, already are at risk from sea level rise due to climate change, according to scientists for the South Florida Water Management District. ...

... The district is anticipating sea levels to climb 5 to 20 inches during the next 50 years.

High water levels at times already are creating problems for some of the floodgates, spillways and drainage canals that protect southern Florida from flooding.

The region now has periods of extreme high tides, when water levels rise higher than the point where stormwater from coastal drainage canals normally gets dumped into the sea.

When that happens, floodgates stay closed, increasing the flood risk if those drainage canals overflow. That would worsen if sea levels rise. ...

... The district has so far identified 28 flood-control structures along the southeast coast and six along the west coast most at risk to rising sea levels. ...

... Cost remains a hurdle to getting that done. The current proposal would begin work by 2015. Each one cost “tens of millions of dollars,” Obeysekera said. ...


The article also mentions salt water incursion into drinking water supplies and the Everglades.

The article also mentions salt water incursion into drinking water supplies and the Everglades.

One of the major drinking water sources for Philadelphia is the Delaware River. Authorities must maintain a certain volume of flow in the river in order to keep the "salt line" where the fresh water of the river mixes with tidal flows from the Delaware Bay below the city's intakes. A three-foot rise in sea level would require much greater river flows to keep the salt line at bay, or a major move in the intake, or alternate fresh water supplies entirely. Maintaining an increased flow will pit Philadelphia against upstream municipalities in NJ as well as New York City, which draws large amounts of its water from reservoirs in the upper parts of the Delaware watershed.

Another view of the issue; go look at picture 5 in this spread;


The whole subdivision will drown if water level goes up a couple of feet. Those houses in pictures 8 and 9 aren't much better off.

Beyond that, what hellish places to live. I know he picked the worst of the worst, but still, why would you live in one of those suburbs?

Go to http://geology.com/sea-level-rise/ and you can pick your own sea level rise for a map of the area of your choice.

At about 13 meters, I've got beachfront property.

At about 10 meters, all the environmentalists complaining about the dissapearing salt marshes should be happy once again.

Well the whitehouse would be under water at +14 m.
Maybe the message would be made at that point.

Well said.

Perhaps equally importantly, and maybe even more useful, at what level are the Wall St banks "underwater" - do they then get "liquidated" ?

LOL. Lets have a look at NYC. I image at +14 m it would need to relocate. They would really be under water.

Well both airports in NY would be gone, but who needs an airport at that point. The Financial district is not looking too good at +14 m.

Beyond that, what hellish places to live. I know he picked the worst of the worst, but still, why would you live in one of those suburbs?

To state the obvious, "opinions differ". Over half of the US population now lives in suburbs. Historically, much of that trend has been due the combination of (1) rural areas didn't have jobs and (2) the urban center in most cities is not particularly child-friendly unless you're wealthy. Cheap oil may have been an enabler, but people, particularly those with kids, were looking for something different from both rural and urban.

Almost all of the pictures are areas that, IMO, would also fail the child-friendly test. Given that all the pictures of housing tracts are labeled either Nevada and Florida, though, I suspect that the target market for them was actually the retired elderly. Many of my elderly relatives have expressed the desire to still have a single-family house, but small and one-story and on a lot small enough that there's minimal outside maintenance. They want to putter with the flowers but not mess with grass.

I've been reading White's A New History of the American West. He makes the interesting point that at least in the West, the "sprawl" pattern really took off during and after WWII because of decisions by the federal government on where it would locate new production facilities. A disproportionate share of those that were not repurposing (eg, building tanks in an existing car plant) were built in the West, for various reasons. Typically, these were very large and went on the outer edge of the then-existing city. New housing tended to follow them.

As we are now told that we must ignore the problem due to our present economic problems, this projection is very troubling...

Yes, very troubling. Essentially it's an uphill battle against people that 'believe' science can be determined via religion. Trouble is many of those people make their way into Congress in which policies are then shaped by ignorance.

My viewpoint on AGW is it's a slow moving extremely powerful train of momentum, and when it gets here in all its destructive glory, a pall will fall over society as the realization of it being too late to change course will finally hit home.

Re: As Glaciers Melt, Scientists Seek New Data on Rising Seas

Yet another article saying, basically, "this is happening much faster than we thought".

Gaia has a fever.

I said it a while back, but I'll reiterate my prediction that by 2016 the weather and climate problems are going to be severe and obvious, more than most people think; heat waves, freezes, floods and droughts, causing major problems with food and fresh water supplies.

People seem to think AGW is not an immediate problem because sea levels won't rise much for a hundred years. I think the not so minor consequences of relatively minor climate change will continue to surprise the scientists.

Though I also think at least a few of them know we're in serious near term trouble but keep their mouths shut so as to keep their jobs.

Link up top: Why Peak Oil is Peak Idiocy

The article says peak oil is peak idiocy because new advance horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing will enable us to find new Bakkens all over the world.

The article echoes the words of the late Julian Simon who’s book was titled “The Ultimate Resource”.

That's one reason that "peak oil" is peak idiocy: it always underestimates the ultimate resource - human capital (i.e. human ingenuity and the resulting innovation, advances, new technology) - which is endless and boundless, and will never peak.

Simon wrote a second edition of the book for the internet: The Ultimate Resource II: People, Materials, and Environment

The article also points to another short article that was published last December: Peak Idiocy This article states that peak oil is peak idiocy because:

1. Prices would rise causing people to cut back on use.
2. Prices would rise causing people to look for more.
3. Prices would rise making the search for substitutes more profitable.

Alas, we are all idiots.

Ron P.

To be honest Ron I've had my suspicion about you all along. Being a TBC (Texan By Choice) we don't tend to pick on such mentally challenged. Just smile and ignore. I actually have a big smile on my face as I type this message.

I noticed that the two articles on peak oil idiocy are by distinguished economists:
The first is Prof. Mark Perry from U of Michigan who links to the main Peak Oil Idiocy piece by Prof. Michael Munger of Duke U.

Up top again is a link to that piece by the guys trying to predict oil availability and supply by using economic arguments. What exactly is going on?

I note how climate scientists are fobbed off for being uncertain about their predictions, but economist clowns and their voodoo are treated as legitimate. Scientists worrying about uncertainties is something nobody else in business and government actually does (in spite of lip service and some actual research funded by the DOD). It's all about the optics of appearing certain and confident. And if you get it wrong most of the time, people will remember only how authoritative you were.

You mention uncertainties. Well, according to Don Sailorman from yesterday's thread, economists are not interested in uncertainty, only well-quantified risk. And Don appears very certain and confident in his assessment.

Cripes, if that is the attitude, no wonder economists can't be of any help! Scientists are buried knee-deep in uncertainty every day of the week. If it wasn't for uncertainty, there wouldn't be a set of disciplines that fall under the scientific umbrella. The only thing I want certainty in is that the problem I am attacking is the one I should be working on, and even then it's sometimes a crap shoot.

As I've said about ten times now, 99%+ of economists believe the conventional wisdom of USGS, EIA, IEA, CERA. Note that these established authorities are (for all intents and purposes) all saying that Peak Oil is nothing to worry about for twenty-five to thirty years. Then why on earth should economists pay much if any attention to the fringe (and beyond the fringe) websites such as TOD?

The article says peak oil is peak idiocy because new advance horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing will enable us to find new Bakkens all over the world.

How does this technology help us find new Bakkens? Where are the Bakkens?

And I am anxiously awaiting when U.S. oil production will equal or exceed U.S. production in 1970. This shouldn't be very difficult to figure out by those,who like the author, are not idiots. After all, we have the technology now to find more Bakkens.

But I am here to learn and try to have an open mind about peak oil. Regardless,however, this could be a good news, bad scenario. If peak oil is just idiocy, the good news is that we have plenty of oil for us and future generations. The bad news is that we would have enough oil to continue our plunder of the atmosphere and all the other resources of the planet. But I guess they are unlimited too. So not to worry.

But, but, but these economists are all so intelligent and sober in their research. Sort of like the readers of bird entrails.

The common refrain I always hear the economic pundits refer to is "reading the tea leaves". This conjures up less voodoo imagery than consulting the oiuja board, the dowsing stick, or entrail research but it amounts to the same thing.

Tasseography sounds important but does anyone know what it refers to?

Go laugh at this one WHT,

I can feel running water under the ground if I use copper and my son can pick out buried high voltage lines. He is an industrial electrician and has tried it all over the place on many and varied sites. I used to think it was crap until I tried it. It is fun. You don't want to do this if the neighbours still think you are sane.

Sorry....no links and I haven't found oil.

I am staying away from the entrails and tea leaves.


Dowsing sticks are always explainable. You may have known that the water existed already. There may be hints in the environment that you pick up subconsciously -- plants, animals, terrain, ... the list goes on. I don't find this interesting at all unless Michael Shermer (and Martin Gardner or even Randi before him) gets a hold of the phenomena and completely skewers the claims. Then it is kind of fun.

Get hold of a low power 3 cm microwave transmitter (of the type used teaching physics). Point it at the back of someone holding dowsing rods from a distance of a few metres. Switch it on and off without the knowledge of the subject.

Guess what happens with most people?

Although I haven't tried this for a very long time but it did seem to work on even the most disbelieving. That said this was just mucking around in a physics lab after seeing a claim on tv that the response could be triggered with microwaves. I wouldn't call it a controlled experiment by any means but it was intriguing. A quick google doesn't seem to turn up any references though.

Weren't you the guy complaining about the 9/11 comments he other day?
Wasn't that all about unsubstantiated claims?

How about if you go dig up this reference and check out the quality of their controlled experiment:
Harvalik, Z. V. (1978). "Anatomical localization of human detection of weak electromagnetic radiation: experiments with dowsers.". Physiol Chem Phys 10 (6): 525–34.

This has 7 Google Scholar citations since 1978. One of them is a study sponsored by a Rosicrucian society:

I can't make anything out of this study. I can't really tell what they are trying to prove. Maybe you would like to look into it since you have such an interest in the subject.

All I know is that I have wasted my time and should have referred to "fortune cookies" instead of "dowsing rods". Thanks a lot.

That year looks about right for when I seem to recall seeing it first mentioned on a BBC tv programme (possibly Tomorrow's World). Of course nobody expected it to work but it seemed to. I knew a university physics professor who intended to look at this more closely a few years later after he tried it himself. Unfortunately he got distracted with investigating seemingly even more bizarre claims of rotational anti-gravity effects. Phoned a journalist friend of his one night to say he'd just made a huge breakthrough and he'd tell him more tomorrow. Then died of a heart attack a few hours later.

Clearly I don't have a particular interest in the subject or I'd have bought the relatively inexpensive equipment to play with at home. It was just a bit of mucking about with apparently surprisingly clear results but I'm fully aware that could easily vanish under properly controlled conditions. I am sorry that I wasted your obviously valuable time but thanks for finding a reference for me anyway :)

The key take-home message is that the people most interested in this dowsing topic seem to be the Rosicrucians, a secret society of mystics.

I probably again made a big mistake of innocently bringing the topic of dowsing up as a loony idea. Just like when I tried to defend Chomsky from a loony charge, trying to swat down this nonsense just brings on more nonsense.

We spend a lot of time on TOD trying to make oil depletion more science-like but this attitude does seem to get derailed often, doesn't it?

I guess it is a problem of strong science batting down the cornucopian arguments, but batty ideas our only hope of coming up with new energy alternatives. We will always have the dreamers posting the questionable here.

Sometimes, dreams and questions provide the sober second thought and a willingness to consider another POV. I suppose at one time sailing west was considered to be a batty idea. The strength of TOD is the community, perhaps like the drunk uncle at your wedding, nevertheless, the names and postings are familiar. (Noam Chomsky has been around long enough to get away with uttering a few indiscretions.)

I have never ever considered myself to be a mystic, however, whenever I have failed to listen to the 'little voice', I have screwed up. I spent years flying in the middle of nowhere and the intangibles are what kept me alive and competent. I think it is the same for all who live or die next to nature...fishermen, fallers, iron workers, farmers. Feet planted firmly on the earth are able to pick up vibrations unknown to folks puttering forth on rubber tires.

"We will always have dreamers posting the questionable here"

Oil depletion is factual and definitely open to scientific inquiry as a means to understand and know. However, wtshtf, and people begin to act like.....people, and the world turns to...God knows what, we may be forced to operate from instinct and the values we have been taught.

:-) Cheers...Paul

Here's one article about the ability of sharks to detect weak electrical fields. Geese and other migrating birds sense the earth's magnetic field to navigate. (Scroll down to "Orientation and navigation" in the article.) Robins literally can see earth's magnetic field. If sharks can sense electrical fields caused by a muscle twitch, and birds can see magnetic force, perhaps human beings are picking up such information unaware. Maybe some of our modern troubles result from pollution of the biosphere by magnetic radiation to the confusion of our innate senses of location.

But can birds read their own entrails????

I don't find this interesting at all unless Michael Shermer (and Martin Gardner or even Randi before him) gets a hold of the phenomena and completely skewers the claims. Then it is kind of fun.

While Shermer and Randi are still with us, Gardner passed away earlier this year. I used to enjoy his
Mathematical games column in Scientific American when I was still at college, but that was a very long time ago and my math skills have been degrading steadily since then... Thank god for the WHTs of the world who continue to maintain theirs!

We did some somewhat not too scientifically rigorous trials with divining rods while at university (Oy, you, come over here and try this). About 8 out of 10 people showed ability to dowse. We used it to trace underground pipes (they turned out to have been cut off so no water) at depths of up to 10'. I have used them on gas lines and water lines. One gas line, the gas board brought out their fancy tracers and declared the pipe simply was not there. I went over the ground and marked out the pipe. They dug down and there was the pipe. We made no attempt to explain how they worked but came away satisfied they did work. The explanations below give some hints as to why. If I ever need to try and trace an underground pipe or structure the first thing I would try would be to get out those old bent coat hangers.


Since you say 8 out of 10 instead of 4 out of 5 then I assume 10 was the sample size. The standard deviation of 10 samples is over 3 so that it is very possible that only 5 out of 10 could show that it worked. How do view the numbers then?
Really, don't talk about this stuff unless you are willing to describe the controlled experiment.

Well, if I had a grant then............. Seriously, thanks for that comment on the stats, as I said it was done informally (ISTR 10-15 people, some time ago) but it raised our eyebrows as we started out very sceptically. If it did work for only 5 out of 10 that would still be something, 1 out of 10 even. I threw it in as something people may want to try as a low tech solution to finding things underground and something not to be dismissed out of hand. In the UK the traditional dowser has been accepted though probably more in the countryside than town. From using dowsing my feeling has been it is a detection of discontinuity in the ground, buried, pipe, wall, water etc, and the comments suggest the detection of small changes in electrical or magnetic fields which makes some sense. It would be interesting to do some real studies to test this out and get some proper stats on it. I would not accept any forms of remote 'divining' however or the more outlandish claims for dowsing.


There are no new Bakkens out there that we don't know about. The Bakken formation was discovered in the 1950's, but it has been only recently that oil prices have been high enough to pay for the expensive technology needed to develop it.

Only idiots who were weren't born when it was invented and haven't learned anything since kindergarten think the technology is new. The largest conventional oil field in Canada, the Pembina oil field, would have produced only a fraction of the 1.5 billion barrels it has produced since 1953 if they had not used hydraulic fracturing on just about every well in the field.

The permeability of the rock in the Pembina Cardium formation was so low that several companies had drilled right through it without realizing they had hit the biggest oil field in Canada. The company I worked for, Amoco Petroleum, realized from analyzing well cores that the oil was there, and by the early 1950's they had developed the technology to produce it. Hydraulic fracturing was the only way to get oil out of the field, and that is how producers have been getting oil out of it for over 50 years. Amoco is gone now (part of BP), but the field is still producing oil and in fact is considered one of the hot new plays for Canadian junior oil companies.

The Bakken formation is much tougher to get oil out of than the Pembina Cardium formation, so while I imagine they will eventually get billions of barrels of oil out of it, it will take much longer than the 50 years it has taken to produce 20% of the oil in the Pembina Cardium.

Ts - There are certainly other formations similar to the Bakkens around the world. I'm not going to burn up time researching them though. They are out there. We don't need any tech to find them...they've already been found. There is no undiscovered valley full of giant oil seeps and dinosaurs. The question remains economics. And more importantly globally speaking, is the nature of those whole have to develop those reserves. The US plays like the Bakken have been developed for the most part by the independent companies. It wasn’t ExxonMobil or Shell Oil leading the charge into the Dakotas. And not for their lacking the capex or the desire to add to their reserve base. Either company had the money to lease every acre of the play had they wanted it. The simple fact is that for the majors such plays are small potatoes for the most part. That fact is the biggest reason we won’t see many of these other trends develop very fast. Most of oil/NG development in the rest of the world is done by the NOC’s (Nat. Oil Companies) and Big Oil. They just don’t function well in smaller drilling intensive plays. Petrobras is doing a good job going after their very high $ DW play. Guess how many rigs they have running in the Bakken or any other fracture shale play?

The technology to develop these types of reservoirs is well established. Improvements are developed all the time but no big step changes. Future development will be a function of the price of oil/NG more than any other factor. In fact more critical than all the other factors combined IMHO. These plays will add to the world’s URR. No one can argue they won’t. But as usual, the real question is rate. Let’s just assume the Bakken can sustain 1 million bopd FOR EVER. Great. So when the rest of global production falls 30% we’ll be producing 57 million bopd instead of 56 million bopd. Not exactly BAU for the world. That was the point I wanted to make: the deniers always throw out the reserve URR numbers but tend to ignore the economic requirements needed to reach that number and, more importantly, the time factor.

peak oil is peak idiocy because new advance horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing will enable us to find new Bakkens all over the world.


Even the Bonobo knows that, at some point, a longer stick won't get him more termites. He recognizes the limits to his technology ..... time to move on.

He just needs to turn that stick about 90 degrees to our right. Can't beat them horizontal sticks.

Brilliant, horizontal infill! Interesting how these analogies work out. The chimp can also apply more brute force technology and borrow a water hose.

They'll actually switch to a long, more flexible, tapered blade of grass, a sort of steerable drill bit. At some point, even though there are still a few termites to be had, they'll decide it isn't worth the effort/energy, and go find another source of food. I can imagine that some bonobos just keep poking longer sticks into the hole. The other apes refer to these guys as being "dumber than a human" ;-)

Reminds me of this crow video:


A bent wire here is analogous to the horizontal well. Pretty amazing!

That's one reason that "peak oil" is peak idiocy: it always underestimates the ultimate resource - human capital (i.e. human ingenuity and the resulting innovation, advances, new technology) - which is endless and boundless, and will never peak.

Oh we come up with new ideas all the time. I know this, I work on patents for a living. However, a common phrase my engineering & scientist friends like to say is "the laws of physics are not changing". No matter how clever we are, we are limited by what exists and what can be done. You can't innovate around the laws of thermodynamics. This is what economists seem to expect.

1. Prices would rise causing people to cut back on use.

How is this statement disproving peak oil? Aren't rising prices a symptom of peak oil?

20,000,000 BPD for the US, and 260 BPD for a Bakken-type well is over 76,000 wells.


(above calculation from "Currently, the field is producing an average of about a million barrels of oil per month from 127 wells" discussing the Parshall field.)

that is a good reference for historical information.

an update of more recent history on the parshall field: parshall's production peaked at 50232 bopd in aug '09(1.56 million barrels from 157 wells). production for the latest month available is sep '10 at ~ 40800 bopd(~ 1.22 million barrels from 195 wells).

there are still wells being drilled in parshall, but it is very doubtful that parshall will ever approach 50 kbpd. parshall field limits are only defined by geology on the east side. the rest of the field is defined by a geographical boundary established by the ndic.

the drop in production seen in late '08 and repeated in late '09 is because of the difficulty of frac'ing wells in winter months. completions fall to essentially zero for the months of dec - feb.

the reason fig 6 from the reference doesnt match my volumes is because fig. 6 doesnt include "confidential" wells. when the wells are no longer "confidential", field production is ammended.

He is partly right though. EROEI for wind and solar are already high enough to leave enough surplus energy to replace oil in a more energy-efficient but no less wealthy society. All that is lacking is economy of scale. The Cummins solar stirling engine (google for pdf's describing the construction details) was estimated to cost $840 in mass production, $10,000 for an installed dish. The ability to scale up is still there, and Stirling Solar keeps its hand in with the SoCal Edison project. All that is lacking is $150/bbl oil, and this technology will make sense, as will $1/watt PV and current wind cost.

At some point we have to agree with the economists. There will be no apocalyptic oil end-time, but a bumpy transition to renewables. Not as easy as Simon described it, but possible.

IMHO, speaking as both a sociologist and also as an economist, I think John Michael Greer got it right in THE LONG DESCENT. Declining production of fossil fuels will drag down real per-capita disposable income to, or close to, minimum subsistence levels for all but the very wealthy.

The rich will always be with us. Even at the lowest point of the Dark Ages in Europe, there were some very wealthy lords with hundreds (or more than hundreds) of vassals. A feudal castle might have as many as two thousand peasants as serfs--sometimes more than that. Then as the Middle Ages went on, the rich became richer--especially true of the Roman Catholic Church in the couple of centuries before the Reformation (which had as one of its main functions the grabbing of Church land by kings, princes, and aristocrats. e.g. Henry VIII of England).

I agree that energy descent is part of the transition, and Greer's description of stepwise descent over decades is reasonable. Sustainable technologies by definition must recycle everything, and repairing or just hanging onto things will become cheaper than efficiently recycling them, so the future is bound to include a lot of 'old stuff'. We will also be forced to concentrate on fewer, better thought-out manufacturing processes and materials, but neither these constraints or solar energy require a return to medieval times. There was this small thing called science that came along...

Greer suggests that we are likely to be close to Dark Ages levels of productivity in 200 years. My guess is that that is right, plus or minus a hundred years.

Advanced technology is embodyed in capital such as tools and machinery, and also in the human capital of the training and education of people to use tools and machinery. Machines may last longer than the human capital needed to operate them. For example, in the U.S. we take it for granted that anybody can learn to operate a bulldozer. In fact, to use a bulldozer efficiently requires learned skills and a substantial amount of experience. So, imagine a society eighty years hence when all the bulldozer drivers have died off. How are these skills going to be rebuilt, especially when you cannot get parts to fix your bulldozer?

Half Full, "this small thing called science" was mostly an amateur activity with minimal impact on the lives of most people, even in western Europe and its colonies, until this very large thing called half a billion years of fossil sunlight started to be turned into mechanical energy by steam engines. Which were not invented by scientists, by the way -- science trailed technology until well into the 19th century.

As cheaply and easily extractable supplies of fossil fuels deplete beyond the point that they're able to prop up an industrial economy, that economy is pretty much certain to sunset out. Yes, I'm familiar with the claims made for sun, wind, and the like; they're absolutely worth developing, but remove the energy subsidy they get from the fossil fuels used in their manufacture, installation, upkeep, etc. and the claim that they can power an industrial society all on their own, it seems to me, looks very thin.

Mind you, with luck and a lot of hard work it should be possible to preserve at least a few of the technological advances of recent centuries into the far future. You don't need fossil fuels to maintain a good working knowledge of sanitation, or build solar water heaters, or make and run vacuum tube-based radio gear with an intercontinental range, and these and many things like them could substantially reduce the misery that comes to mind when words like "medieval" are mentioned. Still, in terms of energy per capita, and of the percentage of the population making a living directly by agriculture, the medieval model's probably fairly close to our future a century or two out.

-- science trailed technology until well into the 19th century

In the case of heavier than air flight, you could say the early 20thC?
Bicycles, tensile wire and small ICE (petroleum) were sufficient enabling technology?
Technology itself, though, struggled up its own learning curve. We did not get reliable strong mobile ICE at a price suitable for farmwork until much later; hence Peak Horses on the Great Plains was in the 1920s and reliable diesel engines did not appear until mid 20thC. By then we needed more scientific metallurgy than just clever blacksmiths.

Agree with JMG's main point (?) that we, including 'science', inherit and mostly run on the modern 'package deal'.

The rich will always be with us.

Look up the basis of this via research papers in econophysics, Yakovenko in particular. This is one of the examples that has shown how classical economics has failed. Pareto's law and Zipf's law are well explained by econophysics arguments.

If there is a single issue that unites the econophysicists it is the insistence that many economic phenomena occur according to distributions that obey scaling laws rather than Gaussian normality.
The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

Can't argue with that conclusion.

And Aristotle argued that slavery was just because some people were natural slaves.

I would say that the rich faired poorly under Communism in the last century. There's nothing inevitable about inequality.
The people of Sweden, Finland or Denmark are the happiest in the world.

No, that is not what Aristotle said. What he said was: "Most men are, by nature, slaves." By this he meant that they were not competent to govern themselves.

In regard to the Athenian institution of slavery, Aristotle recognized it as unjust. Why should a person be a slave just because his city-state (or the city-state of his ancestors) had been defeated in battle? Of course, Athenian slavery was a much milder version than Sparta and its slave-Helots.

But Aristotle can also be called the father of economics. He did not see any way in which the economy of Athens could be sustained without a lot of slave labor. Thus the institution of slavery in Athens was regrettable but necessary, in Aristotle's view. To the best of my knowledge, no other ancient philosopher recognized that the institution of slavery was unjust. It just was the way things had been from time immemorial.

By the way, after fifty or a hundred years of THE LONG DESCENT I think that slavery or serfdom will be reinstitutionalized in the U.S., or what is left of the U.S. Without fossil fuels, who is going to do the work if not slaves or serfs? My hunch is that my grandchildren may live to see the reintroduction of slavery (not just for Blacks) and serfdom for our future organic farmer-peasants. We've never had peons in the U.S., but I think that is in our future, just as it was in Mexico's past.

The rich will always be with us.

This is probably true, unless the planet loses enough human beings to transport the human race back into firmly hunter-gatherer territory. In pre-tribal groups, such as the American plains Indians, I doubt there was much disparity in wealth from one part of a group to another. The important thing about having a small number of humans in a huge territory is that a chief of any kind has to be fairly respected and liked, or his braves would simply take their families and leave and go elsewhere.

In one of the books I read about plains Indians (Son of the Morning Star by Evan Connell. Highly recommended, definitive work on the Battle of Little-Bighorn) a war chief that was interviewed long after this battle was asked why he couldn't simply command his braves to do this or that. His reply was basically, "If I told them to do something they didn't want to do, I wouldn't be Chief anymore!"

If the planet gets down to, say, 500 million humans, there would likely be some places where this kind of sparsely populated 'society' could exist. It would take a hardy bunch of people to deal with it though.

"a war chief that was interviewed long after this battle was asked why he couldn't simply command his braves to do this or that. His reply was basically, "If I told them to do something they didn't want to do, I wouldn't be Chief anymore!""

Le Renard Subtle, Mogwa's other name in the Last of the Mohicans. His power of persuasion is what made him a great warrior.

Many North American and South American Indian tribes had slaves. Horticultural societies (gardening as opposed to plow agriculture) often have slaves, and slavery or serfdom is typical of agricultural societies before the advent of fossil fuels and electricity. If the South had won the Civil War, Black slavery could have continued in the South for several decades, and perhaps longer. In 1859-65 slavery was highly lucrative for the plantation owners, and the price of slaves kept going up as their productivity increased with various innovations in cotton farming and processing of cotten. The British textile industry to a large extent depended on American slave economy to keep the price of cotton cheap. Most people thought Britain would intervene on the side of the Confederacy, but they did not do so, for reasons that are way off topic.

Hunting and gathering communities seldom have slaves because there is no way to keep a slave from just wandering off to look for admission to another tribe or his original tribe.

Don't rich people require large amounts of energy and supplies and skill. The rich person only has money.

I find it difficult to imagine that in any transition, that the rich can magically hold onto power while the world crumbles. seems that skills and good fortune will play a role in deciding who has power in the future. Money may not be the best form of wealth.

I find it difficult to imagine that in any transition, that the rich can magically hold onto power while the world crumbles. seems that skills and good fortune will play a role in deciding who has power in the future. Money may not be the best form of wealth.

Quite so. Jared Diamond, in his book "Collapse", writing about the demise of Norse Greenland, observed that in the collapse, the rich people had merely bought themselves the right to be last place in the line to starve. Once all the actual workers had starved, all they had left was useless money (gold in those days) and other possessions that they could not eat.

Money is just a claim on resources, but is of no use when there are no resources left, or no one is willing to sell them.

Money only works as long as the system works, hence the desperation of the moneyed set to "prevent the system from collapsing" as we were told during the Wall St bailouts.

In the future the richest people will be land owners with plenty of serfs, slaves, or tenant farmers to work the land. Rich people will also have hordes of servants. Plus, they will have as much French champagne as they want, even if it has to be brought by sailing ships and then keel boats poled or paddled up river.

So it is not only the poor who will always be among us; the rich will also always be with us. For example, study the details of the decline and fall of Rome during the 5th century a.d. That was a period of time of a transition to feudalism, with a number of owners of the great latifundae getting richer and richer as did also some of the leaders of the invading Goths, who carved out vast estates. Really, after the edicts of Diocletian which bound farmers to the land, it was relatively easy to make the transition to early feudal social and economic organization.

The details are always murky. Who will know where the best land is? How will it be obtained? Bought on a market overseen by who -- the banks -- the government. Seems that too much uncertainty surrounds even the most basic issue of land ownership. One could buy the right land by accident and not be very rich it seems to me. Though it is impossible to "see" the future. The rich seem too delighted with stock market bubbles and so forth to plan for buying the right land which has good water access and so on. But I may be wrong. Why are cities missing in your future? Where did the government go -- local --state governments?

I agree that land is important, but it would be impossible to imagine all the land being owned by a few persons. Or that the rich are the best people to find and acquire and operate the land.

In times of turmoil, land is typically seized or conquered rather than being purchased. It is but a short step from being warlord of a roving band of brigands to being a settled feudal lord.

As real GDP decreases, it seems very very likely that concentration of wealth will increase. In the future, food will be what most labor and capital are forced into producing--just to eat. These are ideal conditions for the re-emergence of feudalism. In addition to ancient Rome, also study feudalism in Japan, and how it developed.

Good fortune and intuition may be worth more than several million dollars in the future. Who knows?

I see merchants to import (whether by paddle wheel or sailboat) and local cities that make things, but I may be seeing things ;-)

maybe a nice boat would be good to have when the sea level rises

I'm a skilled sailing instructor with more than 4,000 hours of teaching people to sail small boats. Regardless of the future, that is a good skill to have. I'm also pretty good in a kayak.

Speaking of bumpy transition to renewables, I have updated twice my ruminations from the Nov 8 drum on chips for Southampton with some more on the non-trivial Australian case.

Also in the vein of misled economists, here's a study by the BGR on the availability of what would translate as raw materials for energy (German, from November 2009). BGR stands for Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe.

Energierohstoffe 2009

Given present oil market conditions, and assuming an optimal use of reserves and resources, the global maximum of conventional oil will be reached around 2020. Considering also reserve growth from producing reservoirs and the possibility of extracting oil from oil sands, it would be possible to increase production up to 2035 [...] The BGR does not produce its own energy resources reserves data, but relies on extended coverage of the available data on reserves, resources, extraction and economic and technical trends.

Unter den gegebenen Rahmenbedingungen des Erdölmarktes wird bei einer optimalen Nutzung der Reserven und Ressourcen das globale Maximum der Förderung von konventionellem Erdöl um 2020 erreicht werden. Werden zudem Reservenzuwächse aus produzierenden Lagerstätten und die mögliche Förderung von Erdöl aus Ölsanden berücksichtigt, wäre unter den genannten Voraussetzungen eine Steigerung der Produktion bis maximal 2035 möglich [...] Die BGR erhebt keine eigenen Reservendaten von Energierohstoffen. Vielmehr liegt der BGR-Vorratsstatistik eine breite Erfassung der zugänglichen Daten zu Reserven, Ressourcen, Förderung sowie wirtschaftlichen und technischen Trends zu Grunde.

To be fair, they express some misgivings on the transparency of reserve announcements within the text.

How to lie with statistics: "The Bakken is producing 6% of US oil." Yes, it is producing about 6% of the oil produced in the United States. However, it is only producing 1.7% of the oil that is consumed in the United States.

How to lie with statistics II: Lack of context. The Bakken is producing 6% of US oil only because the other major oil fields are so badly depleted. The biggest oil field found in US history, on the Alaska North Slope, is now only producing 500,000 barrels per day, down from a peak of 2 million in 1987.

Yet the graph you show is also misleading. Tufte, of Data Visualization fame, and others would recommend that the zero baseline be shown on that chart. It goes both ways I'm afraid.

Yes and no. The graph should show zero production, but that's pretty easy to visualize as the bottom text line on the graph.

And zero isn't really zero since somewhere between 500,000 and 300,000 bpd, they will have to shut down the TransAlaska Pipeline due to lack of flow. In reality production will come to a stop somewhere before the line reaches true zero. If you follow the trend line down, you can see that day is approaching fast.

I vote that zero should be included always when discussing these peak topics.

One can magnify noise and show a peak -- like looking at a bump on a bigger hill.

Step back and see the entire hill. Make the graph start at ZERO. ;-)

China to build 156 seat commercial aircraft

Launch scheduled for 2016


Some predictions:
- Deliveries later than scheduled
- Almost no non-Chinese sales
- Sales to Chinese airlines will be do to pressure & patriotism
- Assorted teething problems. Likely an early crash.
- Wing efficiency is likely to be below Boeing & Airbus
- Heavier than planned and promised

The barriers to entry are very high and the Chinese a/c appears to offer no technical advantages over 737s or A32x a/c. Engines are typically 1/3rd of the price and these come from CFM (GE & Safran). Add avionics and other imports and even if Chinese content adds zero $, the price reduction would not offset the risk.

Not having a family of a/c (20% bigger and 20% smaller versions) will hurt sales. Same engine as 737 and some A320s will help.


Granted, Adam Smith lived in an era when global trade took weeks and months for delivery and transportation costs were a significant factor in retail. But he believed that part of the invisible hand guiding the market was a preference by the consumers for native goods. Only certain goods - either vastly cheaper or unavailable domestically - would have significant imports. And he believed that govts had an obligation to place certain restrictions on trade that favored national defense. He was dead wrong on the first. The second postulate remains in play.

Now cast your mind to China - a growing world power. Dependent on foreign producers for both commercial airplanes but also military aircraft. Do you think they really care if their first generation commercial airliners are a cut or two below the competition? Cost more - provide less? Do you suppose that they might have longer goals in mind? National security interests?

China will take the long view...

China has its nationalism and pride and a desire for independence from, and eventually economic and technological leadership over, the ROW, which is understandable.

Witness the Chines space program...retracing the steps of the U.S. and Russia, and aiming to go further eventually. A Chinese flag on the Moon would make an unmistakable statement.

Shifting to cars, I have not yet seen the trumpeted prediction come true of a surge of Chinese-made automobiles into the U.S. Perhaps the safety and emissions hurdles have prevented this so far.

Perhaps the U.S. 'great Recession' has been even more significant...

China likely wisely has ascertained that a big push into the U.S. market during these times could invole a significant protectioist backlash.

If Limits To Growth do not interfere in the next twenty years, we will likely see large improvements in Chines vehicles, aircraft, and spacecraft (including satellites), as well as significant improvements in many other products.

However, I think LTG is going to manifest itself to constrain China's grand visions, and well as the growth hopes of the ROW.

China is taking the long view? Where are they going to get the jet fuel for these planes twenty years hence?
Airliners seem to last about 30 years now. (Of course, there are still a few DC-3s left flying. Whenever I see one in the air it is like I'm a kid all over again.)

China is taking the long view? Where are they going to get the jet fuel for these planes twenty years hence?

Aviation is currently only a few percent of usage. With proper prioritization
( airplanes need liquid fuels, ground transport can do without ) we should be able to keep planes running for a long time.

Where are they going to get the jet fuel for these planes twenty years hence?

Persian Gulf including Iraq. Russia. Canada. Alaska. East Africa/Congo. Brazil. Venezuela. South China Sea. Synfuels from Australia.

Recall, when running away from the bear, you don't have to be faster than the bear, just faster than the other guys running away. China is jockeying to be the world power, pockets full of cash. They aim to be in a position where they can buy what they want while debt-burdened countries will be the ones having to settle for less. And they just need to build a military big and strong enough to help ensure that the free market remains free and not exclusive to certain aging powers while they in turn have been buying up all sorts of long term exclusive rights.

Please look again at Westexas's ELM model and his projection of when net oil exports stop.

That's a valid point and I have not been sensitive to it in my quick discussion here. But as a counterpoint, I would tender that many of those countries on that list will want access to Chinese goods, services, and/or cash. Several countries without much of a manufacturing base who will be willing to trade for such.

But, yeah, including ELM paints a much starker picture. Come on substitutes! :-)

So who has built the 'import model' showing the reallocation of imports over different importers over the next 20 years?

Ron - I don't have the model but I tossed out it's name some time ago: MADOR: Mutually Assured Distribution Of Resources. Similar to the Mutually Assured Destruction model during the Cold War. Those govt's with sufficient political, economic and military powers will dominate energy distribution. My personal expectation is that the US and China will be the two big dogs who will share that bone to the detriment of the rest of the world. We each need each other more than the other economies of the world IMHO. Of course, further down the line there may be only enough energy to supply the demand of just one of the big dogs. Then we may be back to the MAD protocol.

OK, to book-end this thread, I said that China will take the long view.

But I ended by saying

However, I think LTG is going to manifest itself to constrain China's grand visions, and well as the growth hopes of the ROW.

I fear that their long view may not sufficiently take in to account the various limits to growth.

You are quite right in your last sentence. I wonder if THE LIMITS TO GROWTH was ever translated into into Chinese. My guess is that it was not.

The Chinese are determined to keep their industrial growth going until all the desperately poor Chinese in rural areas can have jobs in the cities. They will fail by a long way, IMO.

Indeed, I predict that China will have its first capitalist-style recession next year. In other words, I think their real-estate bubble is bursting now, and if not now then in a few weeks or months.

If something cannot go on indefinitely, then it won't.

It seems Limits to Growth was translated into Chinese


I grew up in the western city of Chongqing in the 1960s and 1970s, an avid fan of Lao She's less controversial works. I had never heard of Cat Country until years after the Cultural Revolution. Following Mao's death, much Western literature and philosophy were introduced in China for the first time. I still vividly remember the excitement among my friends in 1980s as we vied with each other for copies of translated books such as William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Dennis Meadows et al.'s The Limits to Growth and Alvin Toffler's The Third Wave. In 1985, George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World first became widely available to Chinese readers. (Reportedly, the earliest Chinese translation of 1984 was published in 1979 in a limited-circulation Communist Party magazine to provide "references for the leadership comrades.")

Now the question is how many of China's leaders and policy makers read and believed LIMITS TO GROWTH. Of course I do not know the answer to that question, but to judge by actions and rhetoric, not very many.

Its worth remembering that Japan seemed unstoppable in the 1980s.

Now cast your mind to China - a growing world power. Dependent on foreign producers for both commercial airplanes but also military aircraft.

On the other hand, I believe a great deal of software work is being outsourced to China and we may find US military hardware increasingly dependent on Chinese manufactured software. This could be interesting with an increasing chance of the US and China becoming rivals for scarce resources.

It might be hard to choose which is more problematic: the hardware or the software



Worth noting that it appears that the single known case described in the article -- a "European chip maker" working at the request of their own government -- appears to have designed the capability in from the beginning. That would be much different and easier than, for example, a Chinese fab adding a kill switch to a design done in Japan or the US and successfully concealing it from the designers. These are devices where it is straightforward to scan a random sample and compare the physical reality against what should be there.

In some ways, adding a kill switch to the hardware in chips sold commercially to foreign firms would seem to be a "risk the business" kind of activity. Even if the probability of getting caught is small, if you do get caught, no one will ever trust you again and you're out of business.

Some predictions;
- massive facility is built capable of turning out steady stream of fighter jets and bombers

China certainly has been modernizing its military (Quality and capability of weapons systems)over the past couple of decades, but I do not foresee the massive increase in weapon quantities that you forecast.

It will be interesting to see how far they push their blue water naval capabilities. That's one area where it's not just the quality of the weapons systems, the quantity counts. Given that China would appear to have a "sphere of interest" that stretches from eastern Africa to Australia then north through Indonesia, the Philippines, and possibly as far north as the Sea of Japan, a blue-water navy is something that they need. And one might argue at least two carrier groups, or even as many as three.

This sphere of interest overlaps substantially with that of India, who is also working towards a blue-water military capability. The Indian Ocean may be an "interesting" place in the future.

Two or three carriers likely this decade

Meanwhile, India has ambitions of a 3 carrier fleet

Their carriers will be just as vulnerable as anyone's carriers to being sunk by torpedoes and sea-skimming missiles.

Lots of subs out there...non-nuke boats can be even stealthier than SSNs.

Works both ways..

Works both ways..


I'm not saying that the Chinese are supermen. We still maintain superiority on a global scale and will for years if not decades. But the relative power gap between 'us' and 'them' is closing quicker than we might realize. The Chinese seem to have momentum. We seem to have lost it. If we are to regain it, I think the fundamental shift will have to occur at the energy infrastructure level. And that will only be possible if we address our debt situation.

my 2c

The Chinese seem to have momentum. We seem to have lost it.

Not much momentum in the image below though.

Diesel shortage paralyzes traffic in NW China

Diesel shortage has paralyzed traffic on an expressway in northwest China's Gansu Province since Wednesday as more than 1000 trucks lined up to fill their fuel tanks at Mayingliang gas station

All that means is that they haven't put the railway infrastructure in place that they need, yet. 1000 trucks = 1000 containers = 500 double-stacked container cars = 5 container trains.

They're working on building a lot of new railways though, e.g. Two new railways in China's western inland

"Trains will travel at 350 km per hour on the Lanzhou-Baoji route so the trip will take 1.5 hours compared with the current 7 hours,"

So, what is the US doing about its transportation issues? Building more freeways?

So, what is the US doing about its transportation issues? Building more freeways?

For the most part, no. It's become too expensive. Not only because of budget issues, but because building freeways now is much more difficult than it used to be. The country is full now. To build a new freeway, you have to take out subdivisions, where in the old days, you'd just have to pay farmer Brown for his chicken coop.

I recall hearing a few years back that the professional engineer's licensing exam had removed the "lay out a four-leaf clover" problem and replaced it with environmental questions. Because few four-leaf clovers are being built these days.

Manufacturing first-class fighter aircraft is tricky. The Israelis make their own tanks and fighter aircraft (with a lot of U.S. parts, including jet engines) but it took them a lot of resources and a lot of time. On the other hand, I've seen it argued that Israeli tanks are better than U.S. tanks. Hard to answer this question except on the battle field.

For example, in World War II the Germans were convinced that their tanks (panzers) were the best. The Russian Stalin tank overmatched anything the Germans produced. The Russian tanks in World War II were definitely superior to U.S. and British tanks. There was a massive tank battle between Russian tanks and German tanks in World War II, when the Germans attacked a bulge in Soviet lines. The Russians won, and Germany never recovered from that defeat--a more decisive battle even than Stalingrad, the battle that denied Mid-Eastern oil to the Nazi regime. I remember studying that battle in the Military History semester of sophomore ROTC.

For example, in World War II the Germans were convinced that their tanks (panzers) were the best. The Russian Stalin tank overmatched anything the Germans produced.

I wouldn't want to argue the T34 wasn't the best WW2 tank. But was Kursk decided by the quality of the tanks, or did a lot of other things, logistics, strategy/tactics, land mines, artillery, ground attack aircraft etc. also have a great deal to do with the outcome?

At least on the western front the Panzers were nominaly much better, but they required a lot of fuel and had mechanical breakdowns that limited their effectiveness. Especially during retreat a mechanical breakdown often means loss of the vehicle. Shermans were able to outnumber them because they were cheap relatively reliable and manuveurable enough to get enough into the fray. Its not so easy to compare design strengths when the different sides weapons have very different strengths and weaknesses.

The biggest problem with the panzers was that Germany could not manufacture them fast enough to replace losses. Germans were always upgrading and changing models, and that slowed down production immensely. The Russians stayed with (pretty much) one-design T-34s and Stalin tanks throughout the war.

Many factors decided the outcome of the battle of Kursk. One of the biggest ones was that the British had cracked the German codes (Ultra and Enigma--Bletchly) and through the Lucy network in Switzerland the Brits told the Russians about every strategic and tactical move the Germans were making before and during the battle of Kursk. IMO, the Battle of Kursk was one of the two most decisive battles in World War II; the other decisive victory was that of the British over the Germans in the Battle of Britain. It turned out that British Hurricanes were better airplanes than the ME-109. Hurricanes shot down far more German aircraft than Spitfires ever did during the Battle of Britain. (A little known fact of WWII)

No need for a gigantic blue water navy if other countries don't have one anymore:
If you can take out all the carrier groups in the world (probably less than 20 or so http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/carriers.htm)
25 or so Dong Feng 21s with nukes on them and you're in business. You don't even have to use them, just make sure the rest of the world knows you have them and that they reliably work.

Think outside of the box.


The problem with that weapon is that when you use it - it is 'game on.' Global powers have generally avoided direct confrontation with one another over the last 60 years. The potential damage is too great. Currently, it's all about force maneuver, position, and projection - and a carrier group is a great way to extend the range of your military force into someone else's back yard. Is China gonna gain some street cred in Africa when the drop a carrier fleet off that coast? You bet they will.

Of course Germany kept trying to challenge the empires of its day - to get its place in the sun. The best laid plans and all that ...

If the Chinese were foolish enough to attack a U.S. carrier group with nukes, the U.S. would probably retaliate massively, just as we did after Peral Harbor. U.S. strategic weapons could kill between 200,000,000 and 400,000,000 Chinese in about six hours. The Chinese know this, of course. Therefore, they will not attack any U.S. fleet with nukes--or for that matter with any weapons at all. MAD still works.

An unlimited counterstrike would likely not play well internationally (or even domestically) – killing <6,000 military personnel on a carrier vs 400mm civilians working, making dinner,- is out of proportion.
Knowing that somebody has such a weapon will make you think twice about messing around though.

To some extent, perhaps to a large extent, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were use of A-bombs in revenge for Pearl Harbor. If you go to Oahu today you'll see the U.S. Air Force (or Navy, not sure which) planes going out all the time on antisubmarine patrols. NOW, seventy years after Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese it is well protected and well patrolled to prevent another sneak attack. You'll still find some elderly veterans in Honolulu who clearly remember the Pearl Harbor attack, because they were there. Little publicized fact: The main reason the U.S. troops responded so poorly to the attack early on Sunday morning is that most (perhaps a great majority, no way to know) were severely hungover and some were still drunk from late Saturday night carousing. Of course, the Japanese knew this was likely to be the case, and that is why they timed the attack for early on a Sunday morning.

Over the years I have talked at length with several Pearl Harbor survivors. Fascinating stories.

The fact the the Russians pretty much knew where the attack was going to come (intelligence, plus, probably it was the obvious thing), and put great effort into preparing the battlefield. Battlefield preparation is one of those underappreciated things.

I had the impression, that the Brits split their attack patterns during the battle of Brittain, the Spitfires did what they were best at, which was to keep the Me109s busy, and the Hurricanes took on the bombers. There is an advantage to having diversity in weapons, if you can manage to use each in its strongest arena. The biggest advantage for both planes was the home air advantage.

The Germans also greatly underestimated the amount of fighters the RAF could put in the air. Goering became convinced there was no cover at all north of a certain point and indeed German bombers attacked parts of Scotland early on without any fighter response. He then launched a massive attack from bases in Norway against northern England with no fighter escort for the bombers. Only to this time trigger a full-scale Fighter Command response against the unprotected bombers. With the predictable results...

But then also in 1940 Joseph Kennedy and many other leading US politicians expected the Luftwaffe to crush the RAF and allow an invasion of Britain with ease.


Joseph P. Kennedy, US ambassador to Britain, informed the State Department July 31 that the German Luftwaffe had the power to put the RAF "out of commission." In a press statement, Sen. Key Pittman (D-Nev.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declared, "It is no secret that Great Britain is totally unprepared for defense and that nothing the United States has to give can do more than delay the result." Gen. Maxime Weygand, commander in chief of French military forces until France’s surrender, predicted, "In three weeks, England will have her neck wrung like a chicken."

My understanding is that the Luftwaffe did come close to putting the RAF "out of commission". Their initial attack plan was to target military facilities, but specifically airfields. But after the RAf did a small attack on some German city (can;t remember which one) Hitler and co were so enraged that they said "if they bomb our cities, we will wipe out theirs" and switched their attack to London. Bad news for the city folk to be sure, but gave the RAF some breathing space right when they needed it most.

One of the things about the Spitfire, is that although it was a beautiful plane, all the curved sections (elliptical wings and tail) made it complex to build. It was reported that it took three times the man hours to build compared to the ME 109, which had many straight sections, and had been designed to be easy to build.

The Hurricane also had a frame and canvas fuselage (early ones also had canvas wings, but the wings were replaced with aluminium which allowed higher top speed), which allowed cannon rounds to pass straight through without exploding, so they were more resistant to gunfire than the spitfires (the plywood Mosquito also shared this characteristic).

All in all, a great plane, just not as sexy as the Spitfire.

But after the RAF did a small attack on some German city

I think it was Berlin, a nuisance raid, that was only targeted at miltary targets, but was off target.

You are correct that Hurricanes were assigned first to shoot down bombers. However, they could turn tighter than an ME-109 and with their tetraethyl leaded fuel could fly about as fast as and sometimes chase down Me-109s. Note that the Germans did not have leaded fuel--a very significant disadvantage for the German fighters. Also, the Hurricane was a more stable and better gun platform than either the Me-109 or the Spitfire.

Note that Hurricanes shot down more German planes during the Battle of Britain than all other sources put together--more than the Spitfires and Boulton-Paul Defiants and other British fighters and British antiaircraft guns put together.

All the war movies show Spitfires. There were in fact a lot more Hurricanes than Spitfires in the Battle of Britain, and the Hurricanes did most of the fighting and shooting down of German planes, both bombers and fighters. Later on in the war thousands of Hurricanes were converted into highly effective ground-attack bombers. Also, the Hurricane was much easier to learn to fly than was the Spitfire. Spitfires killed many pilots on take off, the Hurricanes very few pilots were killed taking off. By the way, at the Duxford air show I saw a few years ago both Spitfires and Hurricanes and even a Lancaster bomber actually flying and doing mock combat. If you ever go to England, be sure to go to Duxford for the air show; they also have air shows at other places, but Duxford also has a great museum of World War II aircraft.

As a Scot I have to recommend the RAF Leuchars Airshow. Yes it still features a Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster. Even the relatively more modern Vulcan nuclear bomber still makes an appearance if there's enough money to get the last serviceable one in the air in any particular year.

Unfortunately they don't let the Vulcan overfly the crowd these days and sadly I doubt it carries a nuclear payload either. Damn health and safety :-)

I saw British Vampire jets (and maybe the Vulcan too--don't remember) when I was just a kid. Maybe around 1950 or thereabouts at an air show near Sacramento, Calif.

There are many good air shows, both in the U.S. and in Britain. I've been to England twice for fairly lengthy stays but never got up to Scotland. Now I have a reason to visit Scotland: See the air show and then tour about fifty distilleries of Scotch whiskey to taste them all. The Dalwhinnie is my favorite.

For my emergency supplies, in case of a fast-crash doom, I should stockpile at least a couple of cases of the Dalwhinnie--good for barter and great for drinking.

10 Sept. 2011 is marked on my new calendar. Good weather for biking and hiking at that time of year. Last time I went to Britain I biked all through Norfolk, sampling the local ales at the local pubs. Also went to the great beer and ale festival held in a Norwich cathedral, of all places. My bicycle is a British made folding Brompton with three speeds; it folds up to fit in a suitcase, which saves me a lot of money when flying.

If you're a golfer an added bonus is that RAF Leuchars is right next to St. Andrews.

The weather at the start of September in Scotland can be very variable - occasionally I've seen shows where the sun blazes down and the temperature can reach the low 70s. At worst you can have temps down to the low 50s and driving rain. But you can't pick the weather unfortunately.

Another added bonus is that the Russians sometimes seem to decide to test UK air defences while the show is on so you get to see the show pause briefly and Tornados (soon to be Typhoons) scrambled to intercept and identify.

Leuchars jets guarded airspace 49 times in five years

It emerged yesterday that before this week's alerts — the 48th and 49th since the beginning of 2006 — RAF Leuchars had stepped into action six times due to Russian aircraft this year.

There were 11 interceptions last year and activity peaked in 2007, when Leuchars crews launched 19 times.

Such flights were common during the cold war, when the Russians used to test the reactions of British forces.

St Andrews University international relations and terrorism specialist Professor Paul Wilkinson said the frequency of such incidents was significant and underlined the importance of maintaining the country's air defence.

He said, "The number of interceptions of that kind indicate how much another country is trying to penetrate our airspace and prove it can do so without being intercepted.

"They are a very good guide to the degree which we are successfully monitoring our own airspace. They show that we really need to be very careful in reviewing our air defences, that we don't overlook the importance of air defence.

"We must have the resources, the aircraft and the manpower to maintain air defence at a reasonable level."

The Russians are entitled to fly in the NATO air policing area but are intercepted when they cannot be identified and RAF jets will maintain contact with them until they leave the UK area.

There are plenty of whisky distilleries located near hydro electric power plants so hopefully they can keep going in the event of a fast crash :)

I believe it was Uncle Joe himself that said "quantity has a quality all its own".

The Israelis make their own tanks and fighter aircraft (with a lot of U.S. parts, including jet engines) but it took them a lot of resources and a lot of time.

Just as a side note, it appears that a lot of Israeli military tech ends up in China. Some US military tech seems to flow along that channels as well.

China imports military technology from all over. They also do a thriving trade in exporting weapons. However, with the exception of a design apparently stolen by a spy from the U.S., it is questionable how effective their nukes and delivery systems are. Take a look at N. Korea for a nation that seems to have completely failed to mate a nuke to a ballistic missle. It is not altogether clear whether on not Chinese technology lags behind that in the West as much as the N. Korean case. Note in the Korean War huge numbers of Chinese would charge with fixed bayonets into machine-gun fire; this is not an effective way to fight a war. True, the Chinese fought the U.S. to a standstill, but it took a huge (4 or 5 to 1?) superiority in numbers for them to do so.

It is not at all clear whether or not the Chinese have an effective air force. My guess is that it is about as effective as the Iraqi air force was against the U.S. or that Egypt's air force was against Israel.

At this point the Chinese blue-water navy doesn't amount to much. They have enough small ships to defend their long coastline pretty well, but my guess is that in total capability the Chinese have less than Britain does in the Royal Navy, which is not large, but it is very high quality. It is no accident that the Brits won the Falkland Islands war, despite Argenina (on paper) seeming to have greatly superior forces in the area of the Falklands. The Argentine Exocet missles, which were supposed to be so great, were impotent against the British fleet.

From Wikipedia:
In 1982, during the Falklands War, Exocet became noted worldwide when Argentine Navy Super Etendard warplanes carrying the AM39 Air Launched version of Exocet caused irreparable damage and disabled the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Sheffield on 4 May 1982; and when the 15,000 ton merchant ship Atlantic Conveyor was struck by two Exocet anti-ship missiles on 25 May. Two MM38 ship-to-ship Exocet missiles that were removed and transferred from the old destroyer ARA Seguí, a retired US Sumner class, to an improvised launcher for land use [11] one of which when fired caused damage to the Destroyer HMS Glamorgan on 12 June.

Not exactly impotent I think.


In terms of stopping the British fleet, the exocet missles were impotent. Of course in any fleet action the better fleet will still lose some ships. The Brits only lost a little one--not one of their important ships such as an aircraft carrier.


As to delivery systems, close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear explosions. I suspect that the Chinese are getting close enough.

See also:

And I wouldn't count on a 60 year old war to reflect current military behavior. One point made in a recent Ambrose-Evans Pritchard column is that the current generation of Chinese are the result of a one-child policy. Elders may be less willing to toss their only sons into combat as cannon fodder. OTOH, the male-female ratio is out of whack. Demographics as destiny.

With their overwhelming advantage in numbers in the Chinese army, the Chinese have a strong advantage in defensive operations. Only a fool would invade China (or Russia). However, do the Chinese have any LSTs? Without the ability to land tanks could mainland Chinese ever successfully invade Taiwan? No way. Anyway, if the mainland Chinese send a fleet to attack Taiwan the U.S. fleet would unhesitatingly and utterly destroy the mainland Chinese fleet in a matter of hours.

I'm afraid I missed the point of such an attack. China is playing go (wei qi) - building a set of capabilities that allows it to present itself with some credibility as an 'equal' to be negotiated with in earnest, allowed to have its way in small things, and opposed only after careful deliberation. Space lift, blue water Pacific or Indian ocean, a string of ports from the South China Sea to Myanmar to Pakistan to Iran to the Persian Gulf (and maybe East Africa in the future?). It expands. Pushes into the Himalayas, East Siberia, Central Asia. Sends merchants and contracts into Africa. It places slow deliberate pressure on competing interests, competing nation states. Surfaces a sub inside a carrier group. Shoots a satellite out of the sky. Watch its move in South China Sea. Literally butting up against a US Navy ship. Doing the same against the Japanese. Placing flags like go stones on the ocean's bottom. The careful inside game of using of elbows to gain a space to maneuver against a bigger opponent, to gain 'sente', to win a 'ko fight.'

In chess, the strong pieces fly over the board, the rooks on orthogonals, the bishops on diagonals, the knights jumping over obstacles. In go, the emphasis is growth, expansion, the slow but steady capture of strategic territory until all the resources are allocated to one player or another. You don't "kill" your opponent; you outgrow him.

China will 'capture' Taiwan when it succeeds in 'cutting it off' from US support - when it pushes US Navy operations away, pushes away US economic interests, makes the benefits of our continued defense of the island ridiculously low in comparison to the risks. It may, in fact, not bothering 'capturing' it and settle on 'denying' it to the US sphere of influence. Our response? It better be to lead Korea, Japan, and Taiwan into mutual cooperation and defense. If we can't link them together, China will take them separately. But not by anything as blunt and ugly as a military invasion of conquest. They will just step into the power vacuum that they created.

Please explain how Chinese naval forces are going to chase the U.S. fleet away from Taiwan.

It cannot be done now and probably cannot be done for at least another twenty years.

Nowadays, nobody pushes a U.S. Naval fleet around. I think that fact will remain true as long as the U.S. Navy has fuel for its smaller ships that protect the aircraft carriers. There used to be some petroleum reserves dedicated specifically for the U.S. Navy. I do not know if these reserves still exist, but at one time in the not too distant past they were enough to supply all U.S. Navy ships for several years and perhaps longer than that.

You bump into their patrol planes in the air,
you bump into their patrol ships in the sea,
you accidentally knock one out of the sky,
you destroy expensive equipment on another,
you show them that you can shoot down overly nosey spy sats
and gently remind them that you hold more of their debt,
buy more of their bonds, than any other nation on the face of the earth.

And, slowly, you gain some space and push back the greatest navy afloat:

You seem to be all about hard power, Don.
The Chinese play the game differently.
(For that matter, so do we, or at least we used to ...)
We are both playing it right now.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd look up Taiwanese exports.
China is their #1 import and export partner. The US is #3.
I would guess the China-Taiwan trade is growing.

Quite right. Despite all the bluster and threats about "one China," there is no way the mainland Chinese are going to invade Taiwan. With the U.S. fleet as its protector, the Taiwanese can retain their independence for at least decades to come--perhaps longer. When China can no longer get oil to fuel its ships, then Taiwan will be quite safe from Chinese invasion. For how many years to come will China be able to import any oil whatsoever? I believe their domestic production is in rapid decline.

For how many years to come will China be able to import any oil whatsoever? I believe their domestic production is in rapid decline.

Well, declining domestic production for 40yrs hasn;t stopped the US from importing lots of oil, and it won't stop the Chinese either.

They are quietly buying oil properties around the world, doing joint ventures with Brazil, etc. Their approach is not to just buy oil, but to buy oil production, and reserves, so they own the oil in the ground, or at least a share of it, so they won;t have to buy it on a shrinking world market.
China has been using some of their US bonds to buy out the share of US companies from Canadian oil sands projects, and there are two separate pipelines planned from Alberta to the BC coast (in addition the one that already exists) to ship oil to the coast and then to China. There will be over 1million bpd capacity in those pipelines.

Of course, it makes more sense for Canada to just sell the oil south, but when you have a bunch of US politicians calling for a boycott of "dirty" oilsands oil, and the Fed government has even prohibited federal agencies, including the military, from buying oilsands sourced oil (more here; http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/boards/r-squared-blog-posts/the-u-s-navy-and-biofuels-–-part-ii/)

So, the Cdn companies aren't going just sit around while the US decides what to do, they'll sell it somewhere else, and China will take it all.
At some point, the US gov will realise that if Canada is selling 1mbd to China, that is one more mbd the US has to import from somewhere else, most likely the middle east.

As for this;
When China can no longer get oil to fuel its ships, then Taiwan will be quite safe from Chinese invasion.

Like the US, china will put it's military needs first, and they are much less than the US military. As long as China has any oil at all, the ships will get what they need.
Meanwhile, chinas is busy saving oil by electrifying trains, has millions of EV's on the road (bikes and scooters) and is doing gas and coal to methanol plants (and using methanol blended gasoline) and importing LNG, which is also used as vehicle fuel. They even have an operation to get oil out of oil shale, only 3kbpd at present, but they have huge reserves of the stuff.

So China's approach on oil is three pronged;
1. Secure overseas supplies by buying into production, not just buying oil
2. Improve the efficiency of oil use, and electrify wherever possible
3. Produce alternative liquid fuels that can substitute for oil.

Add all these up, and add in the command government that will not hesitate to impose rationing if needed, and I would say that China is already much better equipped to handle peak oil than is the US, or most other oil importing countries.

They will have peasants pulling plows in fields by hand or beast before they deny oil for their ships.

China could start with countries like Iran and Venezuela. Kazakhstan and Russia is also very close neighbors.

I think that in the poorest regions of China some peasants do pull plows right now. This kind of thing is not at all unusual. In the U.S. in 1800 it was not unusual to see the wife of a farmer in place of a mule or horse hooked up to the harness while the husband was behind the plow. In 1800 there was a serious shortage of draft animals in the U.S.

By about 1825 there were enough mules and draft horses so that using the wife to pull the plow was unusual.

When teaching American Economic History one learns all sorts of interesting factoids.

That's especially interesting given this recent story:


Source: Macauhub

Beijing, China, 1 Nov - The Brazilian government has been waiting “for some time” for a decision by China regarding Embraer’s request to produce the 120-seat E-190 aircraft in China, the Brazilian ambassador to China, Clodoaldo Hugueney, said in Beijing.

“It is important for us to find a common solution for this, because it is a very important product in our economic and commercial relationship. Aircraft are the only high tech product in our exports to China,” Hugueney said.

China is currently developing its own aircraft with the same characteristics and number of passengers.

Meanwhile, Embraer’s deputy chairman for finance and investor relations, Luiz Carlos Aguiar, announced in Sao Paulo that the company will make a decision in December regarding its factory in China.

If China does not agree to have Embraer E-190 aircraft built at the Harbin factory, the facility jointly operated with the Chinese company AVIC will have to close next year when the last orders for the 50-seat ERJ-145 are delivered.

Brazil exported aircraft worth US$241.6 million to China in the first nine months of 2010, just over 1 percent of total exports to China of US$23.19 billion in the same period.

These sales involve E-190 jets built by Embraer in Brazil and exported to Chinese customers.

The Brazilian company aims to produce the Embraer E-190 at its factory in Harbin, in northeast China.

Embraer recently set up a company to provide assistance to its clients, a US$18 million (12.9 million euros) investment based in Beijing.

From above: “Yes, sure, there really are physical limits to the resources we can dig out of the ground. But the limitations, at least in any relevant sense, aren’t the limits to such resources that exist: it’s the technologies we have to get at them.”

I usually defer to most on TOD since most know more about a particular subject them me. But the above statement allows me a chance to chime in as an arrogant know-it-all. I’ve spent 35 years drilling for oil/NG. I’m very actively doing the same today employing the same advanced technologies the article offers. The above statement is the most dangerous BS put out by PO deniers. The article uses a set of accurate facts to support an unsupportable position IMHO. Horizontal completion methods, DW drilling and advanced 3d seismic are not new technologies. Hz drilling of fractured reservoirs like the Bakken and shale gas plays was developed over 30 years ago. DW production is just an extension of engineering technology developed long ago. Likewise 3d seismic, like I’m using today to drill for deep onshore NG today, is also decades old.

What did change the game was pricing. The Bakken and most of the SG plays were known to be productive many decades ago and at the same time technologies were available to develop them. I saw depositional models for DW GOM potential when I was at Mobil Oil in the 70’s. What was missing was the economic incentive to go after these plays. The economic incentives have driven these technologies and not the “discovery” of new plays. These are now targets of opportunities with higher oil prices. Of course, the SG plays are no longer the hot play now that NG prices fail to support much of the drilling.

So yes: technology is allowing us to develop oil resources we could not develop before. But not because we didn’t suspected they were there. Nor lacked the ability to developed the necessary technology. High oil prices led to this situation. And those high oil prices will lead to other active plays. But these plays will not duplicate the days of easy oil with respect to flow rates IMHO. These technologies won’t lead us to drilling in the middle of the ocean basins. The technology might allow it but those areas have virtually no hydrocarbon potential. Essentially all hydrocarbon potential areas have been ID’d. And those areas are being evaluated thanks to the advances. But that’s it…that’s the end game IMHO. We are going after the last piles of dirt that can add to our energy supply. And there will be additions as long as prices stay high. SG will again be a hot play when NG prices rebound. But, as we just saw, there is a limit to how high the economy can support such prices and, in turn, support continued development. The world will never run out of oil/NG it can pursue. But it will lose the economic ability to produce what it needs to maintain anything close to BAU IMHO.

Just to let you know I am still reading your comments daily and appreciate your arrogant know it all comments. I pass along much of your knowledge to many of the uninformed on my long e-mail list. Being retired for 15 years my technical knowledge is becoming more obsolete each year, not to mention all the stuff I’ve forgotten until some one points it out, however my gardening and woodworking skills are still improving. Thanks for the effort to inform.

Welcome to the club dip. About 20 years ago I could call myself a geophysicist. Not now: the whole processing arena has moved well beyond my limit. Thank goodness I working with two of the best. Drilling success is now so much more dependent on the proper processing steps then the interpretation. I'm sure that sounds odd to you but tha's where we are today. The best interpretor in the world can't draw a correct map if the data hasn't been processed correctly. We're about to drill two side track holes because we think we missed the amplitude anomalies because the migration was done incorrectly. The deep targets are just too small to allow for such variations.

ROCK...thanks for your take on it. I also think folks looking to technology as the answer to fill the gap need to add in the higher environmental risks associated with going after more difficult reserves. When things go wrong with these plays (think BP DW), there is more visible environmental impact that MAY lead to the loss of that reserve. In the blink of an eye, that reserve is gone...off the books.

Now, the BP disaster was a drop in the bucket of total global reserves, but if these "disasters" happen more frequently in the future, not only is the environmental backlash a factor, but so is the hit on "probable reserves".

Economic theory(detached from geology) states that production will peak when marginal costs are zero.

The way companies bring down cost thru economies of scale.

The tar sands have shown that large scale investments have reduced costs substantially.
One reason is that oil is a highly concentrated form of energy.
Natural gas is far less concentrated so the I would guess that it is less likely to bring down costs.
OTH, heavy oil is highly viscous which means the rate of extraction will be lower.

We are running out of conventional oil and gas and seek to substitute unconventional oil and gas which is quite a different
resource and even that resource is limited.

Over time we will adopt these lower energy density resources
and make necessary investments to bring down the cost curve--that will certainly mean that we will use less fuel as we seek to minimize costs but the evidence is this is doable economically.
As you noted, the position of the government and the big banks is critical in changing investment policy.

"What was missing was the economic incentive to go after these plays. "

From my former background in mining I saw much the same. The last big innovation was heap leaching in the '70's and 80's. The one before that was flotation around the 1900s. Most of the time you are waiting for metal prices to go up enough to make the known technology feasible for a given deposit. Or the technology cost to come down, which often meant little more than bigger trucks and shovels.

Pressure oxidation is a fine example. They knew how to do it way back, but on a full industrial scale it was always too expensive. Then Homestake and Barrick Mercur showed it was now possible. Getchell soon followed, and Twin Creeks, and Barrick's big ones on the Carlin Trend and so on.

Improvements in understanding geology are a bigger role than the technology. The whole notion of epithermal gold deposits was a major surprise. Once they were discovered, then people know what to look for, and even more were found.

Paradigm-shifting technologies don't appear that often. Expecting one to appear on command and save your bacon is foolhardy. (When the batteries die on the GPS, you had better know how to use the compass, (you did bring one, didn't you?) or at least be able to find the North Star.)

The only wrinkle I'd put to that Rockman, is that the oil industry is a deeply conservative one. The tendency is to continue/adapt what you know, rather than take on new approaches. As such, the evolutionary approach might well be holding back resource exploitation - there needs to be revolutionary in there to.

If I were throwing around the stimulus cash, one of the things I'd be doing is giving a cross-disciplinary group of non-corporate smart guys the money to go after some next-gen targets: say 60%+ recovery, with x% rate, at less than $y cost. That way I could prove to the industry there was a better way; and bolster near term production as well.

gary - I get your point and wouldn't toss it away out of hand. OTOH there really aren't any cross disciplines not being applied in the oil patch today AFAIK. Full blooded chemists, physicists, math and computer pros, etc abound in the oil patch. In fact I would tend to say the oil patch is already reaching out far and wide for salvation. But you can never say never. Just difficult to count on miracles happening just in the nick of time.

Any jobs for sociologists in the Oil Patch? After all, just about everything else has been tried. LOL

Don - Actually the majors might have such openings in HR. There is one area where the touchy-feely disciplines are applied to a degree: safety training. AS you probably know better than many that safety is more an attitude problem than a technological one. I just tease about the field being a touchy-feely aspect: it does have a place in most biz plans IMHO. Coinsider the fingers being pointed at the alledged attitudes inside BP which may have been a contributing factor.

That is a very good point about BP. They could have used some consultants in social psychology to great advantage. Also, some organization theory types from Business Administration could have quickly and emphatically have identified weaknesses in the functions (and dysfunctions) of BP's bureaucracy.

When I took Sociology 1 back in the fall of 1956, my professor (Herbert Blumer, a remarkable man) said:

"We face two great problems now. One is the problem of war. The other is the problem of organization. Of the two problems, the problem of organization is bigger than the problem of war."

In other words, nobody knows how to do large-scale organization very well. Does not matter if it is a government bureaucracy or a corporate bureaucracy; it is still the same thing. Max Weber pointed this out around the year 1900, and he was right. Arguably, Max Weber was the greatest socilogist of all time. His only equal was Emile Durkheim, a contemporary of Weber's. Since those two men died, we have not had any giants of intellect in Sociology. I majored in Sociology because I liked my Sociology profs, and also I noted that the ratio of females to males in the Soc department was seven to one. Talk about a target rich environment . . . .

Much later on I took advanced seminars in Organization Theory and also in Operations Research. Blumer was right. If we cannot organize effectively, then we cannot get much done at all.

It comes out of something I heard happen to a colleague. They did research to improve the extraction efficiency, got some good results. However the client only wanted to put this new technology on their shelf to act as IP fodder if someone else should explore it - not to use it themselves. They were happy in turning over the cash cow, not wanting the hassle of exploiting resources to the max.

I get the feeling there is quite a bit that could be done better, but it seems to need that push to force movement beyond the conventional.

From "Iran to raise Abadan gasoline output in Feb" above:

the gasoline production capacity of the refinery will be increased by 6.5 million barrel per day and reach 16 million litres,"

Is there something seriously wrong with the math here, or is it just me?

It's not you. 6.5 million barrels per day, besides being 5 times bigger than the world's largest oil refinery, would be over 1 billion liters, not 16 million. Typical journalism.

A different angle on an old story.

Singer James Blunt 'stopped World War 3'

Singer James Blunt has told the BBC how he refused an order to attack Russian troops when he was a British soldier in Kosovo.

Blunt said he was willing to risk a court martial by rejecting the order from a US General.

But he was backed by British General Sir Mike Jackson, who told him "I'm not going to have my soldiers be responsible for starting World War 3".

..."I was the lead officer with my troop of men behind us ... The soldiers directly behind me were from the Parachute Regiment, so they're obviously game for the fight.

"The direct command [that] came in from General Wesley Clark was to overpower them. Various words were used that seemed unusual to us. Words such as 'destroy' came down the radio."

..."We had two hundred Russians lined up pointing their weapons at us aggressively, which was... and you know we'd been told to reach the airfield and take a hold of it.

I've always been a big fan of the Brits. Though their generals have not always been of the top rank, I cannot think of any rogue British generals such as Douglas MacArthur became during the Korean War. Their officers are generally very good, and the men are well-trained and (now) well-equipped.

Although we're now about to scrap our last remaining aircraft carrier, retire the Harriers and share a carrier with the French while we push ahead with building two new super carriers that won't be ready for many years (and we don't know what aircraft we'll put on them anyway) and officially will probably be mothballed when completed. Unofficially we've probably already flogged them off to India.

Of course we will retain the ability to blow up the world with our Trident subs at least until the mid 2020s or the end of the world - whichever comes soonest :)

If there's any sense to it all someone please let me know.

The last time I looked, the Royal Navy had more mine sweepers than did the U.S. Navy. In future wars mines may play a very big role. You would think that U.S. admirals would demand more minesweepers, but they don't because they are all carrier or submarine guys. If I were Emperor of the U.S. I'd get a fleet of about thirty mine sweepers and scrap half our supercarriers and missile submarines. The thirty minesweepers would be much much cheaper to man and maintain than the scrapped carriers and subs are now. I would also build a lot more destroyers and gunboats and PT boats for more effective fighting against piracy.

Mark Papa views on shale gas and oil. Looks like he's clearly on Catman's side


Yet YTD US net imports of Natural Gas are listed by the EIA as up 0.5% on last year.

In 2009, the USA was the world's third largest net importer of natural gas behind only Japan and Germany.

Long term contracts may account for LNG imports. Just read about a week ago, that shipments of LNG are being re-exported. Don't have link; perhaps someone else does.

The fact that relatively small amounts of LNG is re-exported from time to time does not change the fact that the US is not a major LNG exporter and in fact has greatly reduced exports in recent years. Some new LNG export capability is planned but I don't see that altering the big picture any time soon.

In 2009 the US imported 451,957 million cubic feet of LNG and exported 33,355. A tiny amount compared to imports. Virtually all US LNG exports go to Japan.

Whenever possible, I always propose a capital project for export capabilities at our terminal. It used to be laughed at, but lately management has been quiet when I bring it up. The problem, aside from cost, is that even if we start tomorrow it'll be years before it comes on line. The question is always whether gas prices will still be this low in 5 years. I'm still hoping it happens, just because it'd be a fun engineering project.

God Will Not Allow Global Warming Proclaims Rep. John Shimkus, Seeking Top U.S. Congress Energy Position


We're doomed. Sigh....

Shimkus,or is it Dimkus?

God Will Not Allow Global Warming

Well then HE should deliver to me a starship complete with an almost unlimited supply of photon torpedoes. Then operation bye-bye coal infrastructure can commence.

EOS - Such silly comments like his always reminds me of that line from M.A.S.H - God answers all prayers. Just often the answer is "No".

God answers all prayers. Just often the answer is "No".

Or worse, a case of you should have been careful what you asked for.
God, will not allow GW, could be interpreted by an old testament God to mean "man will not be allowed to..."

This proves that the so-called Christian politicians are the Devil's servants. This has got to be one of the most obnoxious selective quotations from the Bible in history.

the scary thing is that he may become the chairman of the energy committee.

but then he represents the beliefs of his district.

but then he represents the beliefs of his district.

Maybe. It is also possible just a plurality of Republicans in his district. In our system a part which gets 51% of the vote can be controlled by a narrow plurality of 51% of the party. Unless the other 49% (of R's in this case), are willing to defect to the other side, that is all it takes for a block of just over a quarter of the voters to push their way into power.

Well, what does God say about hunger? Here's an article that based on one school in Missouri the economy is not bouncing back.


I was hoping that the number of families whose elementary-school children didn't have enough food on the weekends had markedly dropped, signifying that good economic times were reappearing.

"The number has more than doubled," Francine Nichols said. "From the 106 children last year, it has grown to 287."

Ok, so it's not a big sampling, however the recovery may not be happening for everybody just yet.

"Two Saudi Arabias worth of Natural Gas" -- Lead sentence on 60 Minutes. The episode is not worth watching because it never addressed the premise.

I watched it anyway, if nothing else than to see people lighting their drinking water on fire. Gotta love that.


I'm not sure what the problem is with flaming water. It is the current "hot" trend in home upgrades. With a little gas drilling in the area, you could have it for free.

image link

Here's another depressing story about unemployed baby boomers:

The new poor: Baby boomers in the jobless crisis

Reminds me of this article from January 2010, about the long-term, toxic effects of unemployment. People are changed by unemployment - not just temporarily, but for the rest of their lives. They drink more. They become more timid about leaving a job to pursue better opportunities. They die younger.

According to the article, the real problem with inner city ghetto neighborhoods isn't poverty; it's unemployment. A poor neighborhood where most people are employed is very different from a poor neighborhood where there's high unemployment. The decline of manufacturing left many black men unemployable; they didn't have the skills to transition to the service industry, and were less willing to learn them than women and immigrants. Now, white working class neighborhoods are starting to look like black inner city neighborhoods. Young men who can't get jobs end up dealing drugs and drinking, and this destroys family life.

Note that the only solution to mass unemployment is vigorous economic growth. I do not think there will be much real GDP growth in the U.S. with oil at $85.

We really have no good ideas on how to deal with mass unemployment in the cities and mass underemployment in rural areas and small towns. QE2 was the best we could come up with, and I don't think QE2 will do much except to devalue the dollar somewhat against foreign currencies.

Even vigorous economic growth (which we won't get) fails to deal with structural unemployment, which is the situation in the cities and also in many small towns and rural areas. Economists have been singularly unhelpful when it comes to ideas or plans to deal with structural unemployment. Sociologists have some good ideas, but no political clout to try them out.

The unemployment in most suburbs seems to be mostly cyclical in nature rather than structural unemployment.

Zero economic growth is grim. Negative economic growth is much worse.

It would not surprise me for the next ten years to have a strong resemblance to the 1930s in regard to unemployment. It could turn out worse than the Great Depression because of continuing declines in domestic oil production and also oil imports.

My best WAG: real GDP in 2020 of about half current levels in the U.S.

Actually, there are other solutions besides a growth based economy. For example, suppose that people worked only 3 days a week. Now, define a week as 6 days, so folks would all work half a week, with 60 "weeks" a year. That would provide roughly twice as many jobs as the typical US 5 day a week work world which we have now. The production from factories would be much more efficient, as they would be able to run every day. With multiple shifts, they could run 24/6/360. The number of factories could be reduced considerably, for the same level of production, thereby further increasing production efficiency. Retail establishments could be open every day and people could have 3 days a week to shop or enjoy various forms of recreation. Of course, the trouble with this sort of organization, with only 6 days in a week, would be that there would be no day to call Sunday. Just another Utopian hallucination, I suppose, but the other "solution" to economic problems, such as a recession, results in rotating unemployment for many while a few are able to continue working and consuming...

E. Swanson

Yes, I have long thought that a shorter workweek is the least disruptive way of dealing with the slowing economy and high unemployment that is likely to accompany "limits to growth."

I am well aware of the drawbacks. Yes, people bought homes, took out loans, etc., with the expectation of full-time employment. Yes, there is the problem of people in China willing to work 6 days a week, 12 hours a day.

But I still think it's the best solution. People will suffer from the drop in income, but they would suffer more if they had no job at all. Prices will drop with buying power. And I think it's likely globalization will collapse (again), so we won't be competing with China or India any more.

And when Kellogg shortened their work week during the Depression, people loved it. Lower salary and all.

I also think the extra free time would be put to good use. Not shopping, but working in the "home economy." Growing and cooking food rather than buying prepared meals. Sewing clothing rather than buying it. Making home repairs rather than hiring a contractor. And maybe running a home business on the side.

All of this would be good preparation in case the economy really hits the skids. People would have time and incentive to acquire skills that will be useful if their paid job goes away entirely.

Rather than a shorter work week, how about an earlier retirement age? Instead of forced leisure from a shortened work week, how about forced saving for retirement combined with a ban on employing anybody older than 55? I think that would work better than a shortened work week, because if you were to go to a 30 hour work week lots of people would just take two full-time jobs--while there was still a high unemployment rate.

The problem with an earlier retirement is that the rest of society then has to support those retired people, who are now unproductive, for a much longer period. Retirees are both retiring earlier and living longer - can the taxpayers afford to have them on decades long holiday of they have not saved for it themselves?

A good write up on retirement issues is here;

From this page, a different ides on what retirement age should be;

To understand the historical debates about age, work, and retirement, it would be better to think consistently about these things relative to life expectancy--that is, to consider appropriate retirement not as Birth plus X (simple age), but rather as Life Expectancy minus Y (relative age).

And, in fact, this is how the retirement age, and pensions were originally conceived, again from that web page, but quoted from a book by Dora Costa," The Evolution of Retirement", p 181;

Contrast our financial challenge with the view--in 1919, for example--that the role of pensions was to provide for “a few years before death when they will no longer be able to earn wages.”[18] Now we are wondering how to finance two or three decades of retirement.
Economist Dora Costa of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology correctly observed in 1998 that “taxpayers may be less willing to finance a system that provides for a long and, for many, a recreation-filled retirement.”[19] Not only will current workers and taxpayers be less willing, but governments and companies will become less able to do so.

Forced early retirement will exacerbate thew problem, IMO, as young people regret having to work harder, and pay higher taxes to support older people being retired for decades - you work hard for half your life to support the elders then retire and have the younger people support you.
The half time system out forward by Black Dog splits the half into "you work half the time, for all your life", and i think that is a better way to go for several reasons;
- working, in some capacity, actually keeps most people healthier, longer What most retirees want is the ability to do some work, but not the necessity of doing it, and not the stress of responsibility. This is why there is an increasing trend for retirees to work part time retail - not because they need the money, but because they want to do something. My local coffee shop (Tim Horton's in Canada) manager told me that the retirees were her most successful employees. They just want to work a couple of days a week, to keep them active, get of the house, etc - in the words of one of them "it keeps her young". That manager also said that teens/20somethings were much less reliable as employees - guys were embarrassed to work there instead of in a manly job, like construction, etc, and girls all wanted to be a Paris Hilton, and thought serving coffee was demeaning, and just wanted out as soon as possible.
- It means families, with two working parents could, if they choose, arrange their six day weeks so one is always home each day
- but most importantly, it does away with the culture of "entitlement", you can;t rely on someone else supporting you for decades - instead, you have to support yourself for three days, for every three days you work.

As for the preventing people taking on two jobs, well, we don;t stop that today, so why would we under this system? For the employee, that would become pretty exhausting. Also, the income tax you pay on the second job will much higher, so the better value is to just keep the one higher paying job.

But really, the big thing is to end the culture of government entitlement. All you should be entitled to is a level of pension to keep you from starving, and a reasonable level of medical care. If you want more than that - you have to earn it, and save for it, yourself.

The squirrel has to save all his own acorns for the winter, we should too.

A great many Americans (perhaps a large majority) would prefer to work sixty hours a week and get double the gross pay than they would working only thirty hours a week. Note that many many Americans now work sixty or more hours a week. Doctors and lawyers typicall work more than sixty hours a week. Managers typically work for more than sixty hours a week, because the job demands it. When I was teaching I worked sixty hours a week, because the job demanded it (for highest quality teaching and all essay exams and tests and quizzes).

As living standards and real disposable income per hour worked decline, it is only logical that the hours worked per week will increase. I've had full-time students with three or four part-time jobs that put in sixty to eighty hours per week. One of my best students worked eighty hours a week as an assistant manager of a supermarket. It is amazing what some people can accomplish if they are willing and able to make the necessary sacrifices.

I still like my earlier retirement idea. My father retired at age 51 with plenty of savings for retirement and then pursued advanced degrees in cultural anthropology at the U. of Chicago and also at U. of Calif., Berkeley.
That, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to spend your retirement years--go back to college and get more degrees. Or just take classes for fun.

I have no problem with anyone "retiring" at a young age, I just have a problem with them doing it on taxpayers money - if you save enough to retire early, power to you.

I agree that many would rather work sixty hours a week, to make more money, but not all would, and it does not always achieve a proportionally better life. There are many two parent working families that then spend money on child care etc, and never have time to spend with their families, because they are busy working to pay off the house, the two SUV's etc etc. if they were content with less "stuff" they would have more time for their families. I think a big step forward would be to allow families to income split, then there is not as much penalty for one parent staying home or working only part time.

The real problem we have is unemployment - with 17% of of the workforce "underemployed" they are almost as much a burden on society as retirees (just lower or zero health care costs). I think that "solving" unemployment, and how to fund pensions and health for retirees, will be the big challenges for many nations over the next decade. The culture of entitlement will have to end, and there are some hard and unpopular decisions ahead.

Going back to college when retired is great for the retiree, but isn't that using a scarce resource (college spaces) for a limited benefit? Would there be more benefit to educating a younger person instead, so they have a whole life to apply/improve what they have learned? Other side of the coin is that after a life of experience, they may improve the field they are studying - I would hope so. Not saying older people shouldn't be allowed to go back to college, but it does raise the question about displacing younger people - I am not sure what the answer is there.

I think the whole idea of retirement is a product of the fossil fuel fiesta, and probably not sustainable. Retirement is unheard of in many cultures. They don't even have a word for it. Yes, older people's work may have to change as they age, but they still work.

Moreover, there's more and more evidence that retirement is bad for you.

Here's another depressing story about unemployed baby boomers:

Wow, that was depressing, especially when it's about people that are willing, able and ready to work, but can't find employment. But people keep bellying up to the bar for more conservative 'let the manuf. jobs go over seas to reduce trade unions political influence', so what do people expect? Sure, higher priced oil is having its effect on the economy, but that doesn't mean we can't make our own stuff. Here's one example: If we did not allow cheap Chinese clothing into the country, and we paid 25 dollars for a shirt made in the US instead of 10 dollars for one from China, we'd be better off because the whole 25 would stay here and people would be employed to make shirts. A positive loop exchange.

I saw an economist on TV (can't remember the name) and he said the same thing is happening to the US as it did historically to the Dutch and England. Both at different times had a strong manuf. base, then borrowed against that wealth and stopped manuf. its own goods. In both cases their economy suffered and their wealth evaporated. We are doing the same thing. It's going away and the Republicans are all for it because they don't want labor unions to have any political clout for workers rights. They are only for the owner of the Corporation. Vote Republican and watch your livelihood go bye bye.

Peak Earl I support you on this one. Our current globalized economy is all about big capital exploiting ever more slave labor in developing nations, and ruining all possibility of domestic production and manufacturing of a number of consumer items. This is a self-destroying strategy because in the end there will be no consumers in the US market who can afford the imported goods, no matter how cheap, because they will be jobless and without income.

I much prefer a few quality shirts that cost real money that go to people who are treated as humans in their factory than to buy a sh-t load of cheap goods produced by people treated like animals to make their local communist party member and global capital marketer/retailer rich.

There is some very high quality clothing made in Canada. I especially like the Tilley catalog and have often ordered from it. These clothes are better and far more durable than any clothes I know of made in the U.S. My winter deep-snow boots are old Canadian-made Sorrel Paks. I think the new ones are made in China and hence are worthless, no matter how low the price.

Downsizing the American Dream: The shrinking house

Seeing a big porch through the dining room, and a shared green space beyond that adds to the illusion that you are getting more...

...Today, the buzz word is "smart growth" — smaller more sustainable communities that really have a sense of community.

Generally I see civilisation as a very large complex self-organising system which is essentially deterministic (ie. determined by simple rules). This doesn't mean it is predictable, as its sensitive to initial conditions making it a chaotic system. But it does have traits that we can use to provide an educated guess at what it will do given certain circumstances.

So how will it react to a reduction in vital resources (eg. starvation)? Probably in a similar way to the Human system by energy conservation (lethargy), self-consumption (recycling internal resources), triage (restricting flows to or shutting down of non-essential functions) and importantly psychological conditioning to lessen distress.

I think we can see this systemic reaction occurring, as in the above article, where the trend is being established to create dense urban conurbations (ie. ghettoes) and reconcile people to it subliminally via illusion and propaganda.

I think it's possible that it will be the opposite. The subdivisions described don't sound like ghettos. Not with all those shared green spaces, pools, etc.

We're seeing a sort of reverse of the previous pattern: wealthier people are moving to the city, and poor people to the suburbs. These days, more poor Americans live in suburbs than in cities.

Leanan, by ghetto I'm really referring to a melange of something like a PAZ (Permanent autonomous zone) with an unplanned concentration/colonisation of existing urban/suburban spaces. Those green spaces and pools will be utilised for something more functional and productive as the ghetto commercialises to meet its own needs. People will predominantly live and work within the confines of the ghettos which will surround the cities (the possible nucleus of future city states) travelling little.

Successful areas which overcome the many crisis and thrive will obviously attract more people, not through choice, but by necessity. The countryside will continue to empty its population into these urban conurbations and cities, the latter which will increasingly be run by corporations.

IMO, over the next ten years, in a complete reversal of demographic trends, folks start leaving the city to go work as farmers in the rural areas. The first wave will be when the currently unemployed that cannot find work have their government assistance reduced, that coupled with food inflation will make it impossible for them to afford enough food.

To paraphrase Albert Bartlett - "smart" growth is just growth, dumb growth is growth. "Smart" growth is just growth with class. The results are the same.

A bit of gaming on the MADOR idea.

I have little doubt that kind of jostling would appear under duress from the usual suspects, but when I start to wonder to what effect, my geography skills begin to grumble that the issues aren't that easy.

First thing that strikes is that most of the prospective muscle powers would also be technically the most apt to adapt to the next oil shock, much along the lines of what happened after 1979. Not all of them, but also some not in that group. The totality of the latter shall be my second group, I'll call them the Techno group.

Then there are two things that have become very different things from what they were in 79: finance and renewables.

Assuming a minimum of sanity, not a forgone conclusion by any means, finance'll just become another muscle play this time round, roughly along lines that brought rampant bankers back into the fold during the thirties military buildup. Stated boldly, there won't be seen a lot of them when the going gets though.

Then there's the scaling capacity of renewables. I'd probably draw some fire by stating my stance on that, given the length at which the subject has been developed on this site, so I'll use a bit of a cavalier trick and open a third group of powers that might be called Know Hows, Capacitors or some other funny name. Renewables look very differently to these than back in 79.

Sure it would take big efforts to achieve renewables deployment under such adverse conditions as during the beginning of the eighties. The answer to that would be that societies perform differently in necessity mode, more or less so, and some even prefer it that way. Shudder.

I sense that the hard balls wouldn't be from either the second or the third of the outlined groups, but from the rest of the pack, i.e. those entities that have no choice but to buy liquids because they lack the necessary skills or organization to do without them.

Aside from French lorry drivers.

The time is right for Topaz Energy and Marine, the Dubai marine services and oil and gas engineering group, to enter markets offshore Brazil and West Africa, according to the company's Omani parent.

I guess we'll be seeing more and more of this in the next years, i.e. a relocation of oil producing assets towards the pre-salt.

The debate is over; all the insiders know middle eastern production is past-peak. Caxton current holdings, long on pre-salt and solar, is a good example.


Caxton is owned by Bruce Kovner, Dick Cheney's "invisible hand" in the market.